Journalist hit multiple times with projectiles while covering Portland protest around a proposed oil pipeline

March 11, 2021

Independent video journalist Mason Lake said he was targeted with multiple crowd-control munitions by federal officers while covering a protest in Portland, Oregon, on March 11, 2021.

According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, demonstrators gathered outside the Mark Hatfield Federal Courthouse in downtown Portland to protest a proposed oil pipeline between Alberta, Canada, and Wisconsin that three Anishinaabe communities and environmental organizations say would violate native treaty rights. Over the course of two hours, multiple skirmishes erupted as protesters set fires and officers deployed crowd control munitions and arrested people, according to KOIN, a Portland CBS affiliate.

“I got shot up SO many times last night by DHS & Federal ICE & BORTAC officers,” Lake tweeted at 12:55 a.m. on March 12. Border Patrol Tactical Unit teams were previously deployed by the Trump administration during the height of the July protests in Portland, alongside U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Department of Homeland Security officers.

Lake posted photos of bruises that he said came from at least six hits, even though “I was mark[ed] as press from all angles. The chest, back, thighs, foot,” he told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in an interview.

During one of the incidents, Lake said a federal officer shot him in the back with several high impact marking rounds. In a video posted to Youtube, sounds of rounds being fired can be heard at 0:17, right before Lake whips his camera around and marches up to the officer who shot him. At 2:30 a.m., Lake tweeted a similar video of a canister releasing what he identified as “HC Smoke,” which stands for hexachloroethane, a “common ingredient in smoke devices that the Environmental Protection Agency has classified as a likely carcinogen” and could be potentially deadly, according to The Oregonian.

“These rounds are meant to mark people for detainment. I was committing no crime whatsoever, I was not disobeying any orders given,” Lake told the Tracker. “This leads one to believe that the DHS officer was purely trying to deter me from filming the canister by inflicting physical harm onto me.”

Lake said he had press credentials from the National Press Photographers Association, nonprofit media cooperative Halospace Media and Boop Troop Eugene LLC, a live media outlet that covers protests and local events, in addition to visible press markings on his clothes.

DHS, which coordinated the ICE presence in Portland, did not respond to an emailed request for comment. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.

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

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