U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Public radio reporter hit with baton during August protest in Portland

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 16, 2020
Portland, Oregon


Was the journalist targeted?
August 16, 2020

Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter Sergio Olmos said on social media that a Portland police officer hit him with a baton while he covered protests in the city on Aug. 16, 2020.

The protests were among many demonstrations that broke out in response to police violence and in support of Black Lives Matter following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 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 had 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 city agreed to a preliminary injunction in July to not to arrest or harm any journalists or legal observers of the protests or impede their work.

Protesters gathered outside the Penumbra Kelly building, where Portland police declared a riot at 11:57 p.m. on Aug. 15 and deployed crowd control munitions, according to news reports. Shortly after midnight, Olmos was documenting hundreds of demonstrators marching toward the Multnomah County’s Sheriff’s Office in southeast Portland. In a video posted to Twitter at 12:34 a.m., Olmos is hit with a baton and repeated calls to move can be heard. “Police bull rush, two officers run on the sidewalk and use butons [sic] to push press, including this reporter,” his tweet reads.

Olmos didn’t respond to requests for comment. When reached by email about this incident the PPB declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

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