Independent photojournalist Maranie Staab was shoved to the ground by a federal officer while she was reporting on protests in Portland, Oregon on July 25, 2020.
Racial justice protests in Portland had been held nightly since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. The protests 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 was expanded to include federal agents on July 23.
Thousands of people rallied near the Mark O. Hatfield District Court and the Multnomah County Justice Center on July 25, and numerous confrontations erupted between protesters and federal law enforcement agents through the night, The Oregonian reported.
Staab told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker she was walking in a park across the street from the Justice Center when a federal officer saw her and, without warning or explanation, shoved her, causing her to fall to the ground.
In a video Staab posted on Twitter, filmed by a social media journalist with Full Revolution Media, a tall person in a blue helmet can be seen pushing another person to the ground. Staab identified herself in her tweet as the person being shoved. “I was thrown to the ground by a #DHS officer while working as a photojournalist in #Portland.”
Staab told the Tracker she does not know why the officer shoved her. “I can't offer anything that makes sense.”
She said that she thought it might have been an effort to get people away from the Justice Center.
Staab said she was carrying her professional camera gear and had used white masking tape with the word “PRESS” written in black marker to label herself on the front and back of her T-shirt, and on her helmet. She said she wasn’t near any protesters at the time she was shoved.
She said she couldn’t be certain whether she was targeted because she was a journalist. None of her equipment was damaged and she wasn’t injured, but she said that the incident raises other concerns.
“To me the biggest issue is just, we're a democracy and our press has consistently been obstructed,” Staab said.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.