Two journalists hit with projectiles while covering a pro-Trump caravan in Portland

Two journalists were hit with less-lethal munitions while covering a pro-Trump caravan that went through downtown Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 29, 2020.Mike Baker, Seattle bureau chief for The New York Times, and Cory Elia, an editor at Village Portland a…

Two journalists were hit with less-lethal munitions while covering a pro-Trump caravan that went through downtown Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 29, 2020.

Mike Baker, Seattle bureau chief for The New York Times, and Cory Elia, an editor at Village Portland and host of a KBOO podcast, were hit with projectiles that they identified as paintballs.

The journalists were covering the “Trump cruise rally,” which began at the Clackamas Town Center parking lot, about nine miles outside of Portland. Trump supporters were met with counterprotesters as they drove through the downtown, sparking confrontations, according to local news outlet KATU.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reported online videos showing the “flag-adorned trucks driving through groups of protesters, firing paintball guns at crowds and deploying what appears to be pepper spray,” leading to “dangerous, tense confrontations.” The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests that have broken out across the country in response to police violence and in support of Black Lives Matter following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Baker was filming the pro-Trump caravan at the intersection of Southwest Fourth Avenue and Southwest Washington Street downtown when a man riding in the bed of a black pickup truck flying a Trump flag opened fire with a paintball gun.

“The person in the back of the truck just started shooting their paintball gun into the crowd, just kind of shooting indiscriminately at anyone,” Baker told the Tracker. He was hit by a paintball in the back of the shoulder as he was turning away, he said, adding that it caused bruising but no serious injury.

Baker captured footage of the incident, which he posted on Twitter at 8:15 p.m. As pickup trucks adorned with Trump and American flags drive through the intersection, a counter protester can be seen trying to light a Trump flag on fire and another extends their middle finger at the caravan. A clear liquid of some kind can be seen being sprayed towards the caravan from the anti-Trump crowd, as a man in the back of a pickup fires a paintball at Baker and other people gathered on the sidewalk. Then a man in the next pickup deploys a yellow-tinted chemical irritant.

Baker was wearing body armor with press markings at the time he was hit, he told the Tracker, but he doesn’t believe it was targeted; The man appeared to be firing indiscriminately at people on the sidewalk, he said.

Elia, who captured the same rally from across the intersection, was hit shortly after. He tweeted a video of a Trump flag-adorned truck driving away, “This truck start shooting at counter-protesters and then came under attack. I got shot right in the corner of my mouth by a projectile.”

Elia told the Tracker that they had been firing projectiles before his video even started and had been for quite a while. “I was struck in the cheek with the paintball and it left a small welt,” he said.

He also tweeted a photo of an orange round, writing “This is the exact projectile that hit me. I’m good.” Elia said he had a large press marking on his bulletproof vest and several credentials around his neck.


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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