Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter Sergio Olmos was shoved by a police officer while covering a protest in downtown Portland, Oregon, in the early morning hours of June 6, 2020.
Olmos was covering one of the many protests that broke out across the U.S. in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the May 25 death of George Floyd. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.
In Portland, nightly protests over the death of Floyd began on May 29, prompting Mayor Ted Wheeler to declare an 8 p.m. curfew that lasted three days. Even after the curfew was lifted, journalists continued to be targeted by police, according to a class action suit the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon filed against the Portland Police Bureau in June. The city agreed to a preliminary injunction in July to not to arrest or harm any journalists or legal observers of the protests or impede their work. Olmos is a plaintiff and provided a declaration in support of the suit.
Olmos was covering a protest at the Multnomah County Justice Center that began the evening of June 5 and stretched into the next morning. Shortly after 11 p.m., he tweeted that the PPB had declared an “unlawful assembly.”
Tear gas pushed the protesters further into the downtown, according to a tweet Olmos posted at 11:41 p.m. Ten minutes later, Olmos posted an image of an email from a police spokesperson urging the media to “leave the area please for your safety.” In the tweet accompanying the image, Olmos wrote, “This reporter is staying.”
After midnight, the crowd returned to the Justice Center and was soon dispersed by police yet again. Olmos gets shoved by an officer using a baton while leaving the area. “This reporter is shoved by police, I try to vocalize my moments and tell police officer I’m behind him and blocked,” he tweeted at 1:27 a.m,
The accompanying video shows Olmos filming two police vans from across the street. “I’m going this way,” Olmos can be heard saying to an officer. “Hey, I’m behind you.” Another officer approaches and shoves Olmos with his baton, then points a can of tear gas at him. The officer gestures for him to follow the path of the sidewalk, which appears to have been rerouted for construction. “I didn’t see that, I’m going,” Olmos can be heard saying.
At 4:15 a.m., Olmos posted footage of the incident from another angle. “I vocalize my movements, telling two police officers I’m behind them. I think the sidewalk is closed and I’m stuck. I call out to police to let them know. Police officer shoves as I explain,” he wrote in the post.
Olmos also tweeted a photo of himself marked as “press” and wearing a press pass around his neck.
“He had his press pass clearly visible,” the ACLU court filing said. “Nevertheless, the police attacked him with a baton.”
Olmos didn’t respond to a request for comment. The PPB has said it wouldn't comment on incidents involving journalists covering the protests, citing the continuing ACLU litigation.