Photojournalist’s camera damaged during arrest in Portland

November 5, 2020

Freelance photojournalist Clementson Supriyadi was assaulted and arrested by Oregon State Police while covering a protest in Portland, Oregon, on Nov. 5, 2020.

In Portland, protests had been held on almost a nightly basis since late May in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following 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.

At around 8 p.m., Supriyadi arrived at a demonstration at Arbor Lodge Park in North Portland, where protesters had gathered to call for cuts to the Portland Police Bureau’s budget.

Protestors first marched to the home of Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan, who had voted against cutting the police budget, and vandalized his property. By the time they began marching towards the Portland Police Association office, the protest had been declared an “unlawful assembly.”

When Supriyadi started following a group of protesters across a street, OSP officers pulled up in a van beside him, got out of the vehicle and told him he was under arrest, he said.

“Their van and truck snuck up on everyone,” Supriyadihe told the Tracker. “I was in the middle of the street trying to catch up.”

In a video of the arrest posted on Twitter by independent journalist Garrison Davis, people can be heard yelling that Supriyadi is press.

“I told them I was press, but at that point they were taking me down,” said Supriyadi, adding that he had been wearing a press pass.

The officers placed him on the ground and zip-tied his hands behind his back, said Supriyadi. That’s also when he believes his camera, a Fujifilm X100f, was damaged. They searched his backpack and his pockets, then moved him to a law enforcement vehicle.

Supriyadi wasn’t taken to a police precinct for processing, but instead was given a ticket and released, he said. He was charged with disorderly conduct and interfering with a peace officer.

Supriyadi said he has a court date for these charges scheduled for Nov. 24, but he hopes the charges will be dropped before then.

Supriyadi said he wasn’t very surprised about being arrested. “At every level of law enforcement that have been coming out to the protests, they hinder the press from doing what they’re trying to do,” he said.

After being released, he noticed that his camera lens was wobbly, though the camera still works. He believes the damage to his camera, which he had been carrying in his pocket, occurred when the officers laid him down on the ground.

Since July, law enforcement officers from the PPB and federal agencies have been barred by court rulings from arresting, harming or impeding journalists or legal observers of the protests. The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon didn’t include the OSP when it filed the cases. But the rulings should also apply to state police, said Matthew Borden, a partner at BraunHagey & Borden LLP who is cooperating counsel with the ACLU on the case. He told the Tracker that the “plaintiffs will likely seek relief if OSP refuses to agree not to target or disperse journalists and legal observers."

The OSP declined to comment on Supriyadi’s arrest. Portland City Attorney Tracy Reeve didn’t return a request for comment.

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

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