Independent journalist Eric Greatwood was among multiple journalists who said federal law enforcement officers targeted them with crowd-control weapons on July 21, 2020, while he was covering protests in Portland, Oregon.
The journalists were covering one of the many protests that broke out in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the May 25 death of George Floyd. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.
The Portland protests, held nightly since late May, had grown more intense as the presence of federal law enforcement increased in early July. A temporary restraining order on July 2 that barred the Portland police from harming or impeding journalists wasn’t expanded to include federal agents until July 23.
Demonstrations that began the night of July 20 stretched into the early hours of the next day, according to the Oregonian, as the “Wall of Moms” and other protesters confronted federal officers stationed at the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse and the Multnomah County Justice Center downtown.
Greatwood had been livestreaming the protests with a camera attached on top of a 20-foot pole when federal agents in camouflage advanced down Southwest Main Street, shooting munitions. He was hit twice with less-lethal munitions as he walked away from a line of federal agents.
Greatwood’s livestream shows munitions flying through the air, capturing the moment that he was hit the first time, around the 4:57:30 mark. “That one hurt,” he can be heard saying.
About 20 seconds later, the footage captures the moment Greatwood was struck again, this time in the buttocks. The pain was much worse this time, Greatwood told the Tracker, and can be heard moaning in the video. He left the protest shortly after due to the pain.
DHS, which has coordinated the federal presence in Portland, said in a statement that officers used pepper balls and tear gas to respond to an “assault” against the courthouse and law enforcement officers by rioters. The agency didn’t respond to a request for comment on the incidents.
The Portland police said in a statement that its officers weren’t present and didn’t engage with protesters that evening.