Photojournalist Alex Milan Tracy said he was hit with crowd-control munitions fired by federal law enforcement officers during a protest in Portland, Oregon, on July 19, 2020.
Tracy was covering one of the many protests that had broken out across the U.S. in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after 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.
The Portland protests, held nightly since late May, had grown more intense as the presence of federal law enforcement increased in early July. A temporary restraining order on July 2 that barred the Portland police from harming or impeding journalists wasn’t expanded to include federal agents until July 23. Tracy gave declarations in support of the class action lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon, that led to the TRO.
Shortly before midnight on July 19, Tracy was documenting federal officers as they launched a “barrage of tear gas” at protesters outside the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse, according to his ACLU declaration.
“As I was taking video and photographing the chaos, a federal agent shot me in my left ankle joint with an impact munition round,” wrote Tracy, adding that he had been standing away from the protesters. “At the same time, I was consumed with tear gas and hit with pepper-balls on my right elbow.”
Tracy posted a video on Twitter capturing the moment he was hit. “I take a hit on my left ankle joint. Thanks to @SmileItsNathan and street medics for helping me out,” he tweeted, referencing fellow freelance photojournalist Nathan Howard.
Howard, who was also shot by pepper balls after midnight, posted a video of Tracy being treated by medics. “Journalist @AlexMilanTracy is hurt. Less lethal to leg. Medics with him now. He says he's ok,” he tweeted. Howard’s assault was documented by the Tracker here.
The Department of Homeland Security, which has coordinated the federal presence in Portland, didn’t respond to a request for comment.