U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Police throw photojournalist to ground during Portland protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
September 4, 2020
Portland, Oregon


Was the journalist targeted?
September 4, 2020

Photojournalist Nathan Howard said he was pushed to the ground by an officer while covering a protest in Portland, Oregon on Sept. 4, 2020.

Howard, whose work has been published by Reuters, Getty Images and The Associated Press, was documenting one of hundreds of demonstrations held across the U.S. in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25.

Law enforcement officers in Portland have targeted journalists since the outbreak of the demonstrations, according to a class-action lawsuit filed in June by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon. The ACLU suit led to a temporary restraining order, and later a preliminary injunction, barring the Portland Police Bureau from harming or impeding journalists. Lewis-Rolland is a plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit.

On Sept. 4 protesters gathered outside of the headquarters of the Portland Police Association, the union that represents city police officers. Police declared an unlawful assembly at 11:45 p.m., KATU reported.

Howard told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that police came out and started to make targeted arrests of people in the street. He said he was taking photographs of an arrest when an officer came toward him.

Howard said he put his hands up and told the officer multiple times that he was a member of the press while he was backing up. While Howard continued to back up, he said the officer became more aggravated. Eventually the officer shoved him, he said, causing him to fall backwards. He said he landed against a metal street sign pole.

Howard said he was initially alright, and took advantage of his angle on the ground to try to photograph an arrest happening nearby.

Howard said he felt someone fall with him but couldn’t recall who landed on top of whom. He added that in the process, his head was pushed back, hitting the metal street sign pole. He said the impact was jarring, and needed to take a break for a few minutes.

Howard said he was wearing a vest that identified him as press.

The PPB declined to comment on the incidents. The police department has declined to comment to the Tracker on other cases in Portland due to ongoing litigation.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.

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