U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Video journalist presses charges over police assault

Incident Details

Date of Incident
October 10, 2020
Portland, Oregon
Case number
Case Status
Type of case


Was the journalist targeted?

Police officers shoving a group of protesters back before arresting many of them at an Oct. 10, 2020, protest in Portland, Oregon. Video journalist Mason Lake was shoved away from the scene shortly after a police officer saw him filming.

October 10, 2020

Independent video journalist Mason Lake is pressing charges after he said a Portland, Oregon, police officer grabbed and physically moved him to the sidewalk, away from filming a mass arrest at a protest on Oct. 10, 2020.

Lake filed a lawsuit in June 2022 against the City of Portland and two police officers, identified as John Doe 1 and 2. In the complaint, Lake alleges that while covering protests in 2020 and 2021, Portland police in seven separate incidents shoved, pepper-sprayed, threatened, pinned, grabbed and punched him, and damaged his equipment.

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 alleged assault took place against a backdrop of social justice protests around the country in the summer of 2020 following the police murder of George Floyd that May. In Portland, protests brought thousands to the streets continuously throughout that period.

“When someone like me or other independent press are actually in between police officers and protesters, they (police officers) don’t like that,” Lake told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in a March 2024 interview. “I do believe the police knew who I was, and I do very much believe they were trying to get rid of me.”

By pressing charges, Lake said he hopes to set a legal precedent for press freedom cases in the future, adding, “I didn’t break any laws. I never contributed to anything (illegal), like breaking windows or anything like that.”

When contacted, the Portland Police Bureau said they 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.

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