U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Journalist hit by pepper balls while covering Portland protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
April 11, 2021
Portland, Oregon


Was the journalist targeted?
April 11, 2021

James Croxton, managing editor of Oregon-based independent media collective DoubledSided541, was hit by what he described as pepper ball rounds, shot by a Federal Protective Service officer, as Croxton covered a protest in Portland in the early hours of April 11, 2021.

Croxton was covering a “few dozen protesters” gathered near the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Portland, he wrote in a piece for DoubleSided541 a few days later.

Croxton told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he did not believe he was deliberately targeted by the rounds that he said struck him around midnight that night: “Agent just opened the door and shot out. I happened to be across the street right in his sight.”

The journalist said he was wearing a “PRESS” jacket and badge at the time.

He added: “There’s no doubt that I was shot and injured. Still have the scar.”

Croxton was with independent researcher and scientist Juniper Simonis, who also reported to the Tracker that they were hit by rounds. Croxton works with Simonis on gathering research about law enforcement use of crowd-control munitions.

Croxton posted video on Twitter showing what appear to be FPS agents, along with the sound of firing. “Been hit in the right knee with some sort of projectile. Medics have provided an ice pack,” he wrote.

In his story on Double Sided Media Croxton posted photographs of the rounds that he says hit him as well as photos of what look like injury to his knees caused by crowd-control munitions.

The protest near the ICE facility began around 9 p.m. when protesters gathered around the building, took down a fence and a fire started, Croxton said.

“Just over a half an hour later, what began as a separate small fire on the side of the [ICE] entryway, turned into the entire side of it being engulfed,” he said.

According to reports from the night, the side of the ICE building was on fire and Portland Fire and Rescue officers were sent to the scene to put out the blaze.

“Agents tried to exit. Unsuccessful, they went across their driveway and out the side gate, running towards protesters and shooting both PepperBalls and FN 303 rounds,” wrote Croxton. FN 303 rounds are a “less lethal” form of crowd-control munition.

The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Federal Protective Service, has not responded to a request by Tracker for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].