U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Video journalist threatened, shoved during Portland protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
October 2, 2020
Portland, Oregon
Case number
Case Status
Type of case


Was the journalist targeted?

A police officer pointing at journalist Mason Lake moments after the independent videographer was shoved and threatened at an Oct. 2, 2020, protest in Portland, Oregon.

October 2, 2020

Independent video journalist Mason Lake is pressing charges after he said he was threatened and shoved by a Portland, Oregon, police officer on Oct. 2, 2020.

According to court documents, Lake also alleges that after the assault, some of the officer’s pepper spray hit him.

Lake filed the 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.

Lake says that by pressing charges, he hopes to set a legal precedent for press freedom cases in the future. “I was really just trying to report what I saw, record it, and share as much as I could,” he told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in a March 2024 interview. “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 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.

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