Freelance photographer John Rudoff said he was pushed by law enforcement while covering protests against racial injustice and police brutality in Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 5, 2020.
That night and into the following morning of Aug. 6, demonstrations were held in North Portland outside the headquarters of the Portland Police Association, the union representing the Portland Police Bureau. Shortly before midnight, law enforcement declared the gathering an unlawful assembly after an unidentified individual tried to break into the building, according to statements by the police to local news media.
Police officers then moved to disperse the crowd, pushing people off the street and onto the sidewalk, Rudoff told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.
Rudoff, who wasn’t on assignment that night but whose photographs were used by wire services, said he was in the middle of the “scrum of… journalists, activists and everyone in-between” who were pushed by officers onto the sidewalk.
He told the Tracker he was clearly identifiable as a journalist as he was wearing press gear “literally head to toe,” including a fluorescent yellow press vest, a helmet that said press, a gas mask, body armor, and was carrying two large cameras. Rudoff told the Tracker he was uninjured and continued photographing.
In a video of the events that night shared on Twitter by freelance journalist Justin Yau, a police officer is seen telling a group of journalists trying to film an arrest that, “press needs to stop interfering,” and then pushing a female journalist wearing a white press helmet. Rudoff and Yau identified the journalist as freelance videographer and photographer Emily Molli.
Since July 2020, law enforcement officers from the PPB and federal agencies have been barred by court rulings from arresting, harming or impeding journalists or legal observers of the protests. The Portland Police Bureau has said it wouldn’t comment on incidents involving journalists covering the protests, citing continuing litigation.
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.