Radio producer Wyatt Reed says he was targeted with crowd-control munitions fired by federal law enforcement officers during a protest in Portland, Oregon, on July 24, 2020, despite a fresh court order barring federal agents in the city from harming members of the press covering protests.
Portland had been experiencing daily protests over the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.
The presence of federal law enforcement in Portland in July intensified the city's regular protests and the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in downtown Portland became a nightly flashpoint. A temporary restraining order from July 2 that barred Portland police from harming or impeding journalists was expanded to include federal agents on July 23. Despite the expansion of the temporary restraining order, the following day numerous journalists were hit with crowd-control munitions in the vicinity of the federal courthouse as protesters again gathered there. Some said they believed they were targeted.
The Department of Homeland Security, which has coordinated the federal presence in Portland, didn’t respond to a request for comment. In its “Portland Riots Read-out” DHS said one federal officer was injured during the protest, which began the night of July 23 and went through the morning of July 24.
“No injuries to protestors or rioters have been reported” the statement added. It didn’t mention any injuries to journalists, despite reports some reporters were hurt.
Reed, an independent journalist and producer for radio show By Any Means Necessary on the Russian state-owned Radio Sputnik, was hit in the hand and knee by a tear gas canister fired by federal agents.
In a video Reed posted to Twitter at 3:05 a.m., he can be seen holding his bloodied right hand up and saying: “They shot me with some kind of canister, and fucked my hand up, I think my finger might have been broken.”
Reed told the Tracker he was wearing a helmet that was labeled “press” and had duct tape that said “press” on his clothing. He said he believed he was targeted given that he had positioned himself away from protesters.
“I just personally wasn’t near anybody. I’m sure I was at least 20-some feet from everyone else,” he said.
Reed said his knee was “super inflamed” for a few days and that it was pretty hard to walk. Speaking to the Tracker in November, four months after the incident, he said he still felt pain in his knee he didn’t have before the incident.
“I can’t tell if I was lucky or unlucky, because I think it probably could have been a lot worse,” he said.