U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Photojournalist hit multiple times by Portland police, her camera damaged, during August protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 18, 2020
Location
Portland, Oregon
Case number
3:20-cv-01653
Case Status
Settled
Type of case
Civil

Assault

Was the journalist targeted?
Unknown

Equipment Damage

Equipment Broken
March 30, 2021 - Update

City of Portland settles lawsuit from independent journalist assaulted by police during protests

On March 30, 2021, the City of Portland approved a settlement agreement for the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by independent photojournalist Teri Jacobs, which included the city agreeing to pay Jacobs $50,000 and an additional $11,000 for costs and attorney’s fees.

Jacobs was shoved to the ground and hit several times by Portland police while covering protests in downtown Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 18, 2020, according to news reports and her legal filing. Her DSLR camera was also damaged during the incident. Jacobs filed the lawsuit in September 2020.

The settlement is the largest to stem from the city’s 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, The Oregonian reported.

August 18, 2020

Independent photojournalist Teri Jacobs was shoved to the ground and hit several times by Portland police while covering protests in downtown Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 18, 2020, according to news reports and a legal filing.

The protests were among many demonstrations that broke out in response to police violence and in support of Black Lives Matter following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 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 had targeted journalists since the outbreak of the demonstrations, according to a class-action lawsuit filed in June by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon. The case resulted in a temporary restraining order on July 2 barring the Portland police from harming or impeding journalists, which was extended later that summer.

Demonstrators on that Tuesday the 18th marched to the Multnomah County Justice Center, where police declared the site of a riot around 10:30 p.m., according to news reports. Portland police officers in riot gear pushed protesters toward the north, where Jacobs was documenting along Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, according to The Portland Mercury.

In a video shared by Twitter user @johnthelefty, an officer uses a baton to knock Jacobs’ head and shoves her to the ground, the newspaper reported. When she rolls over to sit up, he hits her on the forehead again with the baton.

Jacobs has filed a legal complaint with the United States District Court and is represented by attorneys from the Oregon Justice Resource Center, according to the Portland Mercury. “As Ms. Jacobs was knocked to the ground, she was terrified that the officer was going to continue to attack her and she feared that she might never get up again if he continued with his violent attack,” the complaint reads, according to the article. “An entire squad of Portland Police Officers witnessed this act, failed to intervene, and allowed this officer to walk away after committing a violent crime against Ms. Jacobs.”

In an interview with Fox 12, Jacobs’ attorney Juan Chavez said she was wearing a press credential and that prior to the documented shove, she was also hit “repeatedly on the head, neck and back with a truncheon” by the officer. Chavez added that her camera was broken “when she was knocked to the ground.” According to The Portland Mercury, Jacobs is “seeking punitive damages and attorneys’ fees from the city and PPB officers involved.”

Jacobs declined to comment to the Tracker. When reached by email about this incident, the PPB declined to comment citing pending litigation.

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