U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Police officers rushed, shoved journalist covering Portland protests

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 15, 2020
Location
Portland, Oregon

Assault

Was the journalist targeted?
Yes
August 15, 2020

Independent journalist Jacob Prescott said he was shoved to the ground by police officers while covering protests in Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 15, 2020.

Prescott, who livestreams on social media, was filming demonstrations in Portland against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on the night of Aug. 14 and early into the morning of Aug. 15. At around 1 a.m, on the 15th, freelance journalist Justin Yau posted a video to Twitter with the caption “Portland Police executed a running charge across the bridge after a short standoff with protesters.”

In the video, a line of police officers is seen running across the bridge, instructing protesters to disperse and telling the press to stay off to the side. A man in a long sleeved gray shirt, later identified as Prescott, is running on the sidelines and then begins running backwards in the middle of the bridge while filming the officers.

In a subsequent post, freelancer Yau wrote “One Portland Police officer shoved a livestreamer who dropped his equipment after the bullrush. I assumed from the audio it was because he didn't stay back far enough away from officers.” In the accompanying video, Prescott is seen picking up what appears to be a phone from the ground and then walking backward as he reattaches his phone to a tripod. Without any apparent warning, an officer approaches him from behind and pushes him to the ground.

In another video of the incident posted to Twitter by photojournalist Dave Blazer, Prescott is seen being pushed by one officer, after he picked up his phone from the ground, and then is shoved hard a few seconds later by a different officer whose action pushed Prescott to the ground.

Prescott later retweeted Blazer’s post and identified himself as the person in the video.

Prescott also retweeted footage of the incident taken by another journalist, with the caption “Portland Officer assaults me from behind.” In a subsequent message he posted a photo of a man he believed to be the officer who pushed him to the ground.

Prescott did not respond to Twitter and email messages from the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker seeking comment.

Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Kevin Allen declined to comment on the incident, citing continuing litigation involving the City of Portland. Since July, 2020, 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 U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.

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