Journalists shoved by pro-Trump demonstrators in Salem, Oregon

November 7, 2020

Three journalists were shoved by pro-Donald Trump demonstrators while covering a rally in Salem, Oregon, on Nov. 7, 2020.

Documentary photographer Joseph Rushmore and two members of the Portland-based press collective 45th Absurdist Brigade, who requested anonymity because they fear harassment from far-right groups, were pushed while covering one of the “Stop the Steal” rallies held around the country to promote President Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

In the wake of the election being called for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden that morning, about 200 people gathered outside the Oregon Capitol in the afternoon of Nov. 7. Some of the protesters appeared to be affiliated with the Proud Boys, a far-right group, the journalists told the Tracker. Several other journalists documented harassing, threatening interactions with pro-Trump supporters while covering the Salem rally that day. Members of far-right groups have repeatedly attacked journalists in recent years.

Around 12:50 p.m. the two members of the 45th Absurdist Brigade were crossing a street near the capitol building when a group of protesters started harassing them, one of the press collective members said. The journalist said both they and their reporting partner were pushed.

“These guys came up to us and were like, ‘I recognize you, you’re antifa, you’re not real press, you’re fake,’” the journalist told the Tracker. “One guy especially was jostling me, and saying, ‘That’s a nice camera you have, I can use a new camera.’ Another one was calling me a ‘cunt’ and a ‘bitch.’”

Video of the incident posted on the 45th Absurdist Brigade Twitter account shows one of the pro-Trump demonstrators shoving the person filming. Another protester can be heard saying not to touch the journalist. The demonstrators can also be heard yelling “fake press” multiple times.

Garrison Davis, an independent Portland-based reporter, captured the incident from across the street in a video posted on Twitter. “Right-Wing demonstrators/Proud Boys harassed and assaulted members of the press,” tweeted Davis, who can also be seen getting harassed in the video.

Shortly after 1 p.m., Rushmore was shoved as well. He had noticed a group of protesters confronting a counter-protester and started taking photos of the confrontation, he told the Tracker.

In footage of the confrontation posted on Twitter by Portland-based journalist Sergio Olmos, Rushmore can be seen wearing a pink bandana as he starts taking photos about 24 seconds into the video.

After Oregon State Police officers stepped in to protect the counter-protester, the Trump supporters turned their attention to Rushmore.

Video of the incident published by Olmos shows a group of protesters confronting Rushmore. One demonstrator can be seen repeatedly pushing Rushmore as he shouts back to get off of him. At one point, the protesters begin chanting, “Fuck antifa!” Eventually, state troopers get between Rushmore and the protesters.

“They were yelling that I was an anarchist or antifa, yelling about me being fake press, and somebody started pushing me,” Rushmore said.

“I’m yelling back at them a lot because I didn’t want them putting their hands on me,” said Rushmore. “I was scared at the moment. It’s a pretty violent group and they frighten me. I was way outnumbered.”

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

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