Portland photojournalist says she was thrown to the ground by police while covering protests

August 16, 2020

Independent photojournalist Maranie Staab said she was thrown to the ground by police in Portland, Oregon, while covering protests in the city’s downtown on Aug. 16, 2020.

Staab, whose photos of the 2020 protests in Portland were published by Reuters, The New Yorker and Agence France-Presse, told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that she was documenting a protest in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis.

At approximately 1:30 a.m. that Sunday the 16th, Staab was documenting protests outside the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office when Portland police deployed tear gas. According to news reports, police declared the gathering a riot at midnight and eventually came in tactical gear to disperse the crowd.

In a video Staab posted on Twitter, a police officer can be seen pushing a protester into a wooden pole, ripping off their gas mask and throwing Staab to the ground. She said she was wearing a large vest marked “press.”

“When he saw that I was filming, he very casually threw me to the ground,” Staab told the Tracker. She continued filming even though she hit her head and scraped her elbows.

In an email, Portland police spokesman Derek Carmon said he reviewed the video and that, among other questions, it wasn’t clear whether the journalist was thrown down or tripped. He said the department was committed to upholding civil rights for all individuals. He detailed the PBB’s crowd-control policies and noted any use of force prompts a lengthy review.

“We have made a very intentional effort to share additional information with the public about the entire context of each nightly event,” Carmon wrote. “If you look at our press releases, you’ll find nightly summaries that discuss why the Incident Commanders gave the direction that they did, including the use of crowd control munitions.”

At the time, a preliminary injunction issued by a U.S. District Court judge barred Portland police officers from harming, arresting or impeding journalists. Carmon declined to comment on pending 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]

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