U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Videographer shoved by Portland police officers

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 22, 2020
Portland, Oregon
Case number
Case Status
Type of case


Was the journalist targeted?

Police officers detain a protester following a Black Lives Matter protest in Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 24, 2020. Journalist Mason Lake was shoved by police while documenting protests there two days earlier.

June 27, 2022 - Update

Oregon video journalist files suit over Portland police assaults

Independent video journalist Mason Lake filed a lawsuit in June 2022 against the City of Portland, Oregon, and two unnamed police officers over a series of police assaults in 2020 and 2021.

Lake alleges that while covering protests during that time, Portland police in seven separate incidents shoved, pepper-sprayed, threatened, pinned, grabbed and punched him, and damaged his equipment. Among the incidents was one in which he says he was shoved by police officers while covering a protest on Aug. 22, 2020.

According to court documents, Lake alleges that the incidents caused “physical injury as well as fear” and that the city customarily allows police to use excessive force against members of the press working at protests.

He is seeking $200,000 in compensatory damages. For jurisdictional reasons, an amended complaint was moved from state to federal court on Dec. 12, 2023.

“The police need to just be held accountable. I feel like the powers that be have already tried to do everything they could to get rid of me at the protests,” Lake told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. “I refuse to back down. This needs to be on the record.”

When contacted, the Portland Police Bureau said it could not comment on ongoing litigation but referred the Tracker to the city attorney, Robert L. Taylor. Taylor did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

August 22, 2020

Mason Lake, an independent videographer, said he was shoved by police officers while covering a protest in the early morning of Aug. 22, 2020 in Portland, Oregon.

Lake was documenting one of the many protests that have been held on almost a nightly basis since late May in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the May 25 death of George Floyd. 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.

In the early hours of Aug. 22, Lake and a group of other journalists were covering a demonstration at the PPB’s North Precinct station. After the gathering was declared a riot around 1 a.m., police used smoke and physical force to disperse protesters, according to Al Jazeera.

In a video shared by Oregon Public Broadcasting journalist Sergio Olmos on Twitter at 12:58 a.m., a police LRAD can be heard warning that “all persons, including press and legal observers,” must move onto Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

In a video posted by Olmos at 1:37 a.m., an officer approaches and pushes Lake.

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

This article was updated to identify a previously “unidentified journalist” as videographer Mason Lake, who confirmed the incident to the Tracker.

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