U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Journalist hit with riot control device during rally at Portland ICE building

Incident Details

Date of Incident
October 29, 2020
Portland, Oregon


Was the journalist targeted?
REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Demonstrators and Federal and local police clash at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Portland, Oregon, on Oct. 29, 2020

— REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
October 29, 2020

Independent videographer Garrison Davis was struck with a crowd-control munition in the early morning hours of Oct. 29, 2020, while he covered a protest outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Portland, Oregon.

Protests had been held on an almost nightly basis in Portland since late May, in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Videographer Davis has covered many of the Portland protests, and in November 2020, after this incident, he began co-hosting a podcast, “Uprising: A Guide From Portland,” for iHeartRadio.

According to Davis, a group of about 100 protesters assembled at Elizabeth Caruthers Park in South Portland just before midnight on Oct. 29; they marched a few blocks south to the ICE building, a frequent site for demonstrations to protest conditions for the facility’s inmates and to call for the agency’s abolition.

The group stopped in front of a driveway into the facility, Davis told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. He said about 10 journalists were covering the gathering.

Davis captured footage of armed Federal Protective Service agents, who are part of Homeland Security, in riot gear, emerging from the building on two separate occasions and arresting a protester each time.

Following the second arrest, the agents began firing tear gas and other crowd-control devices at the crowd and marching toward them as they backed down South Moody Avenue, according to tweets and videos Davis posted on his account.

Davis told the Tracker that because of his work he has a gas mask that offers decent protection in such situations. “If you put it on ahead of time it’s not the worst,” he said.

Davis told the Tracker that he was struck on the knee with what he believed to be either a rubber bullet or a tear-gas canister.

“Teargas and Stun Grenades in Portland streets,” Davis wrote in a Twitter post. “I’ve been shot in the leg with either a rubber bullet or canister.”

Davis said he did not seek medical attention but that he walked with a limp for a few days after the protest.

Davis said he was wearing a press badge on a lanyard and a helmet with “PRESS” in white letters on one side. He said that, while an agent used a loudspeaker to threaten protesters and journalists with arrest if they were caught trespassing on federal property, the agents on the street did not issue a warning before setting off crowd-control munitions.

Davis and other people filming the scene edged to the east side of the street to keep cameras on the agents as protesters moved north. He said that it appeared agents were firing munitions toward the journalists.

“They were doing it kind of for fun, it seemed,” Davis said.

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment.

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