U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Photojournalist says Portland police seized GoPro as ‘evidence’ during protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
June 30, 2020
Location
Portland, Oregon
Case number
3:20-cv-01035
Case Status
Ongoing
Type of case
Class Action
Equipment Seized
Status of Seized Equipment
Returned in full
Search Warrant Obtained
No
Actor who seized equipment
Law enforcement
June 30, 2020

Portland photojournalist Alex Milan Tracy said the Portland Police Bureau seized his GoPro camera “as evidence” when he was covering a protest outside the police union office in the Oregon city’s North Portland neighborhood on June 30, 2020.

The protest was one of the many 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 in Minneapolis. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.

Tracy was documenting a protest near the Portland Police Association on North Lombard Street “when the police declared an unlawful assembly and charged at the crowd,” he said in a declaration on behalf of a class action suit the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon filed against the PBB in June. Tracy is a plaintiff in the suit, which resulted in a temporary restraining order and an agreement by the city in July not to arrest, harm or impede any journalists or legal observers.

While Tracy was running, his GoPro Hero 8 fell out of a pouch on his waist, he said in the claim. “One officer told me that it would be seized ‘as evidence’ because it was behind the police line at this point,” he said, adding that the police prevented him from looking for the camera. Tracy wasn’t available to comment.

In a video Tracy tweeted after the incident, he says to the camera: “Moments ago, during a police charge, a GoPro camera that I use for newsgathering purposes, fell out of my pocket attached to my waist and has been taken by the police as evidence. I do not condone this act, and I would appreciate if I could get my camera back without having to go through the evidence office downtown.”

He got his camera back from the PPB Property Warehouse on July 2.

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