Journalist Tuan St. Patrick’s camera lens was broken after he was repeatedly shoved to the ground by Portland, Oregon police in the early morning hours of July 26, 2020, just hours after he and other journalists covering demonstrations say they were hit with crowd-control munitions.
St. Patrick is a national correspondent for Berlin, Germany-based video news service Ruptly, whose sole shareholder is funded by the Russian government. St. Patrick was covering one of the many protests that broke out in Portland 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.
Protests have been held nightly in Portland since late May and grew more intense as the presence of federal law enforcement in the city increased. Since July, police and federal agents in the Rose City have been under court orders not to harm or impede journalists.
St. Patrick was covering demonstrations that began the night of July 25 around the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse and continued on into the next morning.
St. Patrick and three other journalists told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that they were struck with crowd-control munitions just after midnight on July 26. Their account of that incident is here.
St. Patrick told the Tracker he was sprayed with a chemical irritant in that incident but continued covering the police response to the demonstrations.
He said that at about 5 a.m. on July 26, he was livestreaming while he was among protesters at the intersection of SW 4th Ave and SW Yamhill Street. Police announced an unlawful assembly for the area and dispatched officers to clear the intersection with crowd control munitions and physical force, he said.
“They start running towards us,” St. Patrick told the Tracker. “I turn around and I’m like ‘this is not so safe.’”
St. Patrick told the Tracker that he was pushed to the ground twice and shoved into a tree as officers rushed through the area. He got to his feet and found pepper-ball powder on his vest and his clothing. He was carrying a Sony A7 Mark III digital photo camera and, upon closer inspection of his gear, found that his lens had been broken.
“It was just a messy scene,” St. Patrick said.
Since July, law enforcement officers from the Portland Police Bureau and federal agencies have been barred by court rulings from arresting, harming or impeding journalists or legal observers of the protests. The orders were issued as part of a lawsuit that the American Civil LIberties Union filed on behalf of journalists who allege that law enforcement officials targeted them with arrests and physical violence.
The Portland Police Bureau has said it wouldn't comment on incidents involving journalists covering the protests, citing continuing litigation in the ACLU case.