U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Journalist pepper-sprayed, shoved while covering Oregon campus protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
April 29, 2024
Portland, Oregon


Was the journalist targeted?
Reuters/Jan Sonnenmair

Portland State University’s library, above, was taken over by pro-Palestinian protestors in late April 2024. On April 29, assailants there knocked independent journalist Brandon Farley to the ground and pepper-sprayed him.

— Reuters/Jan Sonnenmair
April 29, 2024

Independent videographer Brandon Farley was shoved to the ground and sprayed with a chemical irritant by a group of assailants on April 29, 2024, while filming a pro-Palestinian protest on Portland State University’s campus in Oregon.

Farley, who told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he was documenting this demonstration as a journalist, was recording protesters assembled around the university’s main library — which was occupied by them for days — when the assault began. He posted on the social network X that a group of people came up on him from behind while he was filming.

“One of them grabbed my strap and started pulling as others began swarming me. I was then pushed to the ground and maced in the face while I was retreating,” Farley wrote.

Farley is heard in the video telling the assailants that he is leaving the scene, while an assailant follows behind and calls him a “Nazi bitch.”

In an email exchange with the Tracker, Farley said that in addition to the two assailants, one of whom he described as a “large man,” at least two other individuals approached him during the assault. He noted that he has been attacked in the past while filming protest movements in Portland.

“They view me as a target who constantly needs to be dealt with, but often, they treat it as a joke, like yelling out a ‘Nazi’ or a ‘fascist’ in an attempt to get others to come after me with blind rage,” Farley told the Tracker. “I know many of their tactics by now, but sometimes I still get injured, as was the case on April 29th.”

Farley said he did not report the April 29 incident to law enforcement, nor did he seek medical attention following the attack. “I've been accosted and physically attacked by them dozens of times with no recourse from law enforcement,” he added. “I stopped asking for their help in early 2020, after realizing what little they could do to mitigate my situation.”

Editor’s Note: This article was updated to reflect Brandon Farley’s self-identification as a journalist at the demonstration. For more on who the Tracker counts as a journalist, see our frequently asked questions page.

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