Independent journalist Teebs Auberdine said she was hit with crowd-control munitions by federal officers while covering protests in downtown Portland on July 29, 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, which had been 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 until July 23.
According to news reports, demonstrators initially gathered for a vigil outside Portland City Hall. A KGW article said they moved toward Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse, where they met federal officers firing crowd-control munitions, including tear gas and flash bang grenades.
Auberdine told the Tracker she was live streaming at the intersection of Southwest Third Avenue and Southwest Salmon Street and clearly wore a vest labelled with press markings. "[Officers] would follow me with these lights as I moved," she said. "By the end of that night, it had gone from flashlights and strobes to also being shot with pepper balls while illuminated."
She said federal officers targeted members of the press "extensively" and that she was hit in the face by a pepper ball as well.
The Department of Homeland Security, which coordinated the federal presence in Portland, hasn’t responded to a request for comment.