U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Journalist shoved, his camera damaged, while covering Portland protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
June 25, 2021
Portland, Oregon
Case number
Case Status
Type of case


Was the journalist targeted?

Equipment Damage

Equipment Broken

A group of police officers surround demonstrators during a protest on Oct. 1, 2020, in Portland, Oregon. Journalist Mason Lake was shoved by police and had equipment damaged while documenting protests there in June 2021.

June 27, 2022 - Update

Oregon video journalist files suit over Portland police assaults

Independent video journalist Mason Lake filed a lawsuit in June 2022 against the City of Portland, Oregon, and two unnamed police officers over a series of police assaults in 2020 and 2021.

Lake alleges that while covering protests during that time, Portland police in seven separate incidents shoved, pepper-sprayed, threatened, pinned, grabbed and punched him, and damaged his equipment. Among the incidents was one in which he says he was shoved by a police officer, damaging his camera, on June 25, 2021.

According to court documents, Lake alleges that the incidents caused “physical injury as well as fear” and that the city customarily allows police to use excessive force against members of the press working at protests.

He is seeking $200,000 in compensatory damages. For jurisdictional reasons, an amended complaint was moved from state to federal court on Dec. 12, 2023.

“The police need to just be held accountable. I feel like the powers that be have already tried to do everything they could to get rid of me at the protests,” Lake told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. “I refuse to back down. This needs to be on the record.”

When contacted, the Portland Police Bureau said it could not comment on ongoing litigation but referred the Tracker to the city attorney, Robert L. Taylor. Taylor did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

June 25, 2021

Independent video journalist Mason Lake said a Portland police officer shoved him with a baton and damaged his on-camera microphone while he was covering a protest in Portland, Oregon, on June 25, 2021.

According to The Oregonian, protesters gathered near the Oregon Convention Center after a Portland police officer shot and killed a man outside a Motel 6. Some demonstrators shouted for officers to quit their jobs, while officers stood facing the protesters with shields and batons. The Portland Police Bureau on Twitter said officers throughout the city responded to help with “scene security.” A few days earlier on June 16, all of the officers with the Portland Police Bureau's Rapid Response Team resigned together following news of investigations for excessive force, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

“The PPB maced & fired 40mm rounds into a crowd of protestors gathered on NE Grand Ave,” Lake wrote on Twitter at 12:04 p.m. on June 25, alongside a video of officers shoving and spraying demonstrators. At the 19-second mark, it appears that an officer physically knocked the camera, cutting the audio for the rest of the clip.

“I was on the front line and I was nearly bear-maced before being physically shoved by & officer with a baton,” Lake wrote the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in a text message. “He hit/shoved me marking my neck & hitting my on-camera microphone damaging it.” He also tweeted a photograph of his neck with a red mark across the middle and said he had multiple “press” markings across his clothes and helmet, as well as a National Press Photographers Association badge on his front strap.

“The officer issued no orders for press to move or go to designated area,” he added.

PPB didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.

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