KATU ABC 2 photojournalist Ric Peavyhouse was struck by crowd-control munitions fired by federal law enforcement officers during a protest in Portland, Oregon, on July 24, 2020, despite a fresh court order barring federal agents in the city from harming members of the press covering protests.
Portland had been experiencing daily protests over the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.
The presence of federal law enforcement in Portland in July intensified the city's regular protests and the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in downtown Portland became a nightly flashpoint. A temporary restraining order from July 2 that barred Portland police from harming or impeding journalists was expanded to include federal agents on July 23. Despite the expansion of the temporary restraining order, the following day numerous journalists were hit with crowd-control munitions in the vicinity of the federal courthouse as protesters again gathered there. Some said they believed they were targeted.
The Department of Homeland Security, which has coordinated the federal presence in Portland, didn’t respond to a request for comment. In its “Portland Riots Read-out” DHS said one federal officer was injured during the protest, which began the night of July 23 and went through the morning of July 24.
“No injuries to protestors or rioters have been reported” the statement added. It didn’t mention any injuries to journalists, despite reports some reporters were hurt.
Peavyhouse was filming federal agents though a protective fence around the federal courthouse when he was “hit by something that felt like buckshot,” he wrote on Twitter at 1 a.m. alongside a video he uploaded of the incident.
In Peavyhouse’s video, protesters can be heard taunting federal agents on the other side of the fence before the camera jerks sharply and Peavyhouse retreats.
At 2:15 a.m., Peavyhouse tweeted a photograph of a hospital wristband and wrote “not how you want a protest to end.” He replied to a comment saying he had something “stuck in his eye.”
In a tweet that afternoon Peaveyhouse wrote: “My best guess for what hit me in the eye last night was pepperball shrapnel shot at head level. Going frame-by-frame, it looks like officers shooting from the steps hit the officer in front of me and then I went down. I felt similar debris/shrapnel the other night. #pdxprotest”
Neither Peavyhouse nor a news director at KATU ABC 2 responded to requests for comment.