U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Journalist pushed by Portland police officers while covering protests

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 22, 2020
Location
Portland, Oregon

Assault

Was the journalist targeted?
Yes
August 22, 2020

An officer shoved independent photojournalist Maranie Staab while she was covering protests in Portland, Oregon, in the early mornings of Aug. 22, 2020.

Staab was documenting one of the many protests that have been held on almost a nightly basis since late May 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.

Law enforcement officers in Portland have targeted journalists since the outbreak of the demonstrations, according to a class-action lawsuit filed in June by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon. The ACLU suit led to a temporary restraining order, and later a preliminary injunction, barring the Portland Police Bureau from harming or impeding journalists.

In the early hours of Aug. 22, Staab and a group of other journalists were covering a demonstration at the PPB’s North Precinct station. After the gathering was declared a riot around 1 a.m., police used smoke and physical force to disperse protesters, according to Al Jazeera.

In a video shared by Oregon Public Broadcasting journalist Sergio Olmos on Twitter at 12:58 a.m., a police LRAD can be heard warning that “all persons, including press and legal observers,” must move onto Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

About a half hour later, as police were using force to disperse protesters, Staab was among several journalists, clearly marked as “press,” who were pushed while trying to film an arrest. In a video posted by Olmos at 1:37 a.m., Staab can be seen wearing a black baseball cap backwards, with a camera in her right hand and a phone on a gimbal in her left. An officer approaches and pushes Staab.

A few seconds later, the officer rushes at Staab again, pushing her hard into another photojournalist, and yelling, “Stay back!”

“I didn’t do anything to draw attention to myself,” Staab told the Tracker. “Some officers might respect the first amendment and the TRO that’s been in place, but the majority don’t.”

The PPB has said it wouldn't comment on incidents involving journalists covering the protests, citing continuing litigation in the ACLU case.

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