U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Oregonian photojournalist pushed by law enforcement while covering protests

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 16, 2020
Portland, Oregon


Was the journalist targeted?
August 16, 2020

Journalist Beth Nakamura said she was pushed by law enforcement officers while she was covering demonstrations in downtown Portland on Aug. 16, 2020.

Nakamura was covering one of the many protests that have broken 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.

Law enforcement officers in Portland have targeted journalists since the outbreak of the demonstrations, according to a class-action lawsuit filed on June 28 by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon. The ACLU lawsuit resulted in a temporary restraining order against the Portland Police Bureau and other law enforcement agencies working with the Portland police, and eventually led to a preliminary injunction in July barring the police from harming or impeding journalists and legal observers.

Nakamura, a photojournalist for The Oregonian newspaper, said she spent much of the night of Aug. 16 covering demonstrations outside the Multnomah County Justice Center, an epicenter of Portland protests because it houses a jail, courtrooms and a police precinct.

In an interview with the Tracker, Nakamura said that around 10 p.m. she went to the back of the Justice Center, which is also the entrance to the Portland Police Bureau’s Central Precinct, where some protesters had gathered. The entrance is on Southwest Second Avenue, between Southwest Main Street and Southwest Madison Street

Video published on Twitter at 10:20 p.m. by Portland-based independent journalist Catalina Gaitan shows Nakamura, wearing a vest with the word “press” on it, filming police near a garage door where a police vehicle from Gresham, Oregon, was trying to enter. Gresham is a suburb of Portland. The video shows an officer, who appears to be from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, pushing Nakamura away from the garage entrance. The same officer can be seen pushing away another person who is wearing a vest marked “press” and riding a bicycle. The Tracker was unable to verify the identity of that person.

Nakamura said she was not interfering with the garage entrance or the police car driving up to it. “That was a very aggressive officer and it was completely uncalled for. You end up feeling targeted,” she said.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to a request for comment on the shoving incidents.

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