Journalists covering Portland protest shoved away from demonstration

Independent journalists Alissa Azar and Melissa Lewis were harassed and assaulted by Portland police while covering a protest on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in front of the Portland Police Bureau North Precinct on Oct. 10, 2020, according to their social media posts and interviews.

The protest was among the many demonstrations that broke out in response to police violence and in support of Black Lives Matter following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 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 had 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 city agreed to a preliminary injunction in July to not to arrest or harm any journalists or legal observers of the protests or impede their work.

At 10:22 p.m. on Oct. 10 Azar tweeted a video of officers surrounding protesters, yelling at and aggressively pushing them around. At the 1:10 time mark, an officer approaches Azar and Lewis, saying, “If you want to film, you can do it from down there,” pressuring them to walk away from the scene. Another officer suddenly charges at them, yelling, “Move! I don’t care what the TRO says.”

Azar told the Tracker she was physically pushed and was wearing her National Press Photographers Association pass, as well as a helmet and vest with press markings.

Lewis also tweeted a similar video at 11:20 p.m. that captures the initial rush of officers toward the demonstrators.

“I was maced, pushed behind a barrier, forced to jump the barrier, and then forced down the sidewalk under threat of violence,” Lewis told the Tracker.

She said she had a press badge and large press markings on her backpack and helmet.

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

Independent journalists Alissa Azar and Melissa Lewis were harassed and assaulted by Portland police while covering a protest on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in front of the Portland Police Bureau North Precinct on Oct. 10, 2020, according to their social media posts and interviews.

The protest was among the many demonstrations that broke out in response to police violence and in support of Black Lives Matter following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 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 had 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 city agreed to a preliminary injunction in July to not to arrest or harm any journalists or legal observers of the protests or impede their work.

At 10:22 p.m. on Oct. 10 Azar tweeted a video of officers surrounding protesters, yelling at and aggressively pushing them around. At the 1:10 time mark, an officer approaches Azar and Lewis, saying, “If you want to film, you can do it from down there,” pressuring them to walk away from the scene. Another officer suddenly charges at them, yelling, “Move! I don’t care what the TRO says.”

Azar told the Tracker she was physically pushed and was wearing her National Press Photographers Association pass, as well as a helmet and vest with press markings.

Lewis also tweeted a similar video at 11:20 p.m. that captures the initial rush of officers toward the demonstrators.

“I was maced, pushed behind a barrier, forced to jump the barrier, and then forced down the sidewalk under threat of violence,” Lewis told the Tracker.

She said she had a press badge and large press markings on her backpack and helmet.

The Portland Police Bureau has said it wouldn't comment on incidents involving journalists covering the protests, citing continuing litigation in the ACLU case.


This content originally appeared on U.S. Press Freedom Tracker: All Incidents and was authored by U.S. Press Freedom Tracker: All Incidents.


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