Law enforcement damaged livestreaming equipment belonging to independent journalist Jon Ziegler while he was covering protests in Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 15, 2020.
On the night of Aug. 15 and early into the morning of Aug. 16, Ziegler was covering demonstrations in northeast Portland against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Ziegler, who previously worked with the media collective Unicorn Riot, has been documenting protests for his independent livestreaming account, RebZ.tv.
Sometime after 9 p.m., law enforcement declared the gathering a riot and forced protesters to disperse, Ziegler told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. The journalist said he was walking behind a line of police officers and filming them as they chased protesters down the street, when he saw an officer shove a woman in front of him. In a recording of the incident posted to Twitter, the woman can be seen falling to the ground. Ziegler is then seen following the officer and asking for his badge number. The officer turns, yells “right up behind you” and lunges at Ziegler.
The officer tried to grab Ziegler’s phone, but was unsuccessful, the journalist told the Tracker. The officer pushed Ziegler’s RetiCAM smartphone tripod mount so forcefully into this chest, however, that the clamp broke and the journalist was left with a minor scrape. Ziegler said he was wearing a bulletproof vest with a fluorescent press insignia. “It was obvious from two blocks away that I was press,” he told the Tracker.
Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Kevin Allen declined to comment on the incident, citing continuing litigation involving the City of Portland. 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 U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists being assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas, or having their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country. Find these incidents here.