U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Portland journalist shoved by police while filming arrest of protester

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 29, 2020
Location
Portland, Oregon

Assault

Was the journalist targeted?
Yes
August 29, 2020

Independent reporter Garrison Davis was shoved by a police officer while filming a protester getting arrested near the police union building in north Portland, Oregon, in the early hours of Aug. 29, 2020.

Davis, a contributor to iHeartRadio, was covering one of the many nightly protests held in Portland in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.

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.

Sometime after midnight on Aug. 29, the door to the Portland Police Association building was set on fire. After a riot was declared, police chased protesters into the parking lot of a gas station across the street, tackling and arresting some of them, Davis told the Tracker.

In a video tweeted by Davis, an officer can be seen confronting him as he moves closer to film an arrest in front of the gas station. The officer can be heard yelling, “Move back! Move back!” Then the video goes dark as the officer shoves Davis.

Robert Evans, a journalist for Bellingcat and iHeartRadio, captured the rest of the incident in a video he posted on Twitter. “Police officers very likely violate the TRO by shoving Garrison back to stop him from filming an arrest,” tweeted Evans.

Evans’ video shows the officer pushing Davis, who is holding his arms in the air. “Stay back over here where you were told to stay,” the officer can be heard telling Davis, who is clearly marked “press” on his helmet. Police can also be heard giving instructions over an LRAD warning protesters and press not to “interfere.”

Davis told the Tracker that he felt targeted as press by the PPB in this instance.

“He’s acting like I was repeatedly told to stay somewhere and I’m not, which isn’t what happened,” he said. “I wasn’t told to stay anywhere previously.”

The PPB has said it wouldn't comment on incidents involving journalists covering the protests, citing continuing litigation in the ACLU case.

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