Independent journalist Griffin Malone said law enforcement officers targeted him with crowd-control munitions while covering protests in Portland, Oregon, in the early morning hours of July 25, 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.
Law enforcement officers in Portland had 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 case resulted in a temporary restraining order on July 2 barring the Portland police from harming or impeding journalists, which was expanded to include federal agents later that month.
The Department of Homeland Security hasn’t responded to requests for comment on any incidents involving its officers. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which operates under the DHS, referred the Tracker to the DHS for comment.
At 3:05 a.m. on July 25, Malone was shot in the leg with a projectile by a Portland Police Bureau officer. He said he was standing at the intersection of Main Street and Third Avenue at the time of the incident.
Malone tweeted a video of the incident, which shows a water bottle landing at the feet of the officer in the upper right frame. The office then turns and shoots directly at Malone at the eight-second mark.
Malone said he was advised in conversations with the ACLU that the incident happened so quickly it would be difficult to prove that it was targeted. However, Malone felt that it was personal. “I had run-ins with that officer earlier in the day and they already acknowledged me and the other press standing in the corner,” he told Tracker.
Malone believes the projectile was a pepper ball. It hit him on part of his leg where he had additional padding, and though it left a tiny bruise he told Tracker it didn’t hurt him badly.
When reached for comment in the fall of 2020, the PPB told the Tracker it wouldn’t comment on specific incidents, citing continuing litigation in the ACLU case. Then in early 2021, PPB spokesman Derek Carmon said the department was committed to upholding civil rights for all citizens, including by requiring officers to report any use of force for review.