U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Journalists hit with crowd-control munitions while covering protests in Portland

Incident Details

Date of Incident
July 20, 2020
Portland, Oregon


Was the journalist targeted?
July 20, 2020

Cory Elia said he was hit with crowd-control munitions by federal law enforcement officers while covering protests in Portland, Oregon, during the early morning hours of July 20, 2020.

Cory Elia, co-host of a KBOO podcast and managing editor of the news site Village Portland, said federal agents threw tear gas canisters toward him despite being clearly identifiable as a member of the press.

The Portland-based journalist was covering one of the many protests that broke out in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man, while in police custody.

The Portland protests, held nightly since late May, had grown more intense as the presence of federal law enforcement increased in early July.

At around 4:40 a.m., Elia was filming protesters near Southwest Salmon Street and Southwest Third Avenue downtown when he and his co-host, Lesley McLam, were hit by tear gas. Elia told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that several canisters landed near them.

Federal agents also fired munitions that “flew past our heads,” Elia said. “We were stuck on the corner and munitions were flying all around us, preventing our exiting the area.”

Elia, who wore press badges and clothing marked with the word “press,” said he was targeted despite yelling out at the officers that he was a journalist. The Tracker has documented McLam's assault here.

While a number of federal agencies had officers in Portland in July, it wasn’t clear which agency the officers were from. The Department of Homeland Security, which coordinated the federal presence in Portland, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.

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