U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Journalist struck with pepper balls fired by federal officers while covering Portland protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
July 26, 2020
Portland, Oregon


Was the journalist targeted?
July 26, 2020

Independent journalist Teebs Auberdine said she was hit with impact munitions fired by federal officers while covering protests in downtown Portland, Oregon, on July 26, 2020.

The protests were among many demonstrations that broke out in response to police violence and in support of Black Lives Matter following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 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 was expanded to include federal agents on July 23.

On the night of July 26, demonstrators gathered in the area around at the Multnomah County Justice Center and the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse, where clashes with the Portland police and federal officers escalated later in the night, according to local news outlet KGW8.

Auberdine was livestreaming near the Justice Center, wearing a vest clearly labeled with press markings, when she was hit.

“Had to end stream early tonight after getting hit in the head with a pepperball. Still clearly marked Press,” she tweeted. “I'm well geared for this and was not injured, but it was fairly spicy and got all in under my helmet and around my neck.”

She didn’t sustain any acute injuries aside from the powder and gas exposure, she told the Tracker.

The Department of Homeland Security, which has coordinated the federal presence in Portland, said in a statement about the night’s enforcement actions that officers used crowd control tactics to respond to “attacks” against the courthouse and law enforcement officers by demonstrators. The agency didn’t respond to a request for comment on the incident.

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