Rach Wilde, an independent photojournalist working for Black Zebra Productions, says she was shoved to the ground by a federal officer while covering protests against police violence in Portland, Oregon, on July 22, 2020.
Team members from Black Zebra Productions, a community-based storytelling production crew, were documenting protests that have been ongoing for months in downtown Portland and across the U.S. in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. In mid-July, federal agents were dispatched to the city, increasing tensions and drawing backlash.
On the night of July 21, protesters had gathered outside the Multnomah County Justice Center. By 10:30 p.m., the situation had escalated, according to a report from the Department of Homeland Security, the agency coordinating the federal presence in Portland. Around 12:30 a.m., Wilde told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that she was looking toward the side of the building, where officers were shooting impact munitions from a window.
“Out of nowhere, I heard a slight commotion. They [federal agents] just popped up and were right next to me,” she said. “Right as I turned around, one of the federal officers was beelining straight toward me.”
Wilde said the officer shoved her “as hard as he could” and kept running past her. In a livestream shared on Facebook by Black Zebra, federal officers can be seen running toward a crowd of people at 1:24:03.
Wilde, who was dressed in all black with a helmet and gas mask on, said she was pushed straight into a tree. “I hit my knee and my shoulder really bad,” she told the Tracker. She said her shoulder still hurts if she does certain movements and her knee will occasionally act up. The body of her camera was also damaged, as it hit the ground first, according to Wilde.
“It was clearly a pocket of press,” she said. “All of us had cameras. Majority had press presses.”
Wilde said she was wearing a press pass issued by Black Zebra Productions around her neck. After she left the scene, she regrouped with her team and they continued documenting until 2 a.m.
DHS did not respond to a request for comment on the incident.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.