U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Journalist pushed, threatened with arrest as Portland protest declared a riot

Incident Details

Date of Incident
September 5, 2020
Portland, Oregon


Was the journalist targeted?
September 5, 2020

KBOO podcast host Lesley McLam, who filmed demonstrations in the early morning hours of Sept. 5 in north Portland, reported on her Twitter account that police pushed her and threatened her with arrest.

Police were deployed to block protesters who had gathered at Ventura Park from marching on a police precinct building located several blocks away at Southeast 106th Avenue, the Oregonian reported.

Protesters had targeted law enforcement buildings and surrounding areas, sometimes breaking windows, setting fires and tagging structures with graffiti. Police used tear gas on Sept. 5 for the first time in a month and made 59 arrests at the protest near Ventura Park, according to a department news release.

At 12:43 a.m., McLam posted a video on Twitter of a police line near the police union headquarters, writing in the post that officers had driven protesters to the west from the police union headquarters on Lombard Street.

“Cops are moving,” McLam can be heard saying on the video as officers approach and surround a station wagon moving on the street in front of them.

“Then this happened. An officer pushed me back off the line,” wrote McLam, who didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In the video, McLam can then be heard interacting with an officer who apparently orders McLam to back away from the scene.

“We were told ‘sidewalk,’ we’re fine,” McLam said.

“The rules can change … Back up, thank you, ma’am. Back up. Thank you,” the officer said.

“You’re touching me. You were talking to someone else and you just physically touched me and shoved me backwards,” McLam said.

McLam can then be heard interacting with another officer.

“Ma’am you need to back up or you’re going to be under arrest,” the second officer says to McLam. “I’m not kidding.”

According to McLam’s statements on the video, the second officer also begins to push the journalist back onto a sidewalk, despite her insistence that she kept a six-foot distance from the group of officers.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.

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