Portland’s Independent Reporters Reflect On Almost 2 Months Of Nighttime Protest Coverage – OPB News

22July 2020

Portlanders have turned out to protest systemic racism and police cruelty for more than 50 successive nights on downtown Portland streets. While some journalism companies, including OPB, have not been able to send out reporters out on a nightly basis, independent freelance journalists are on the ground covering the turmoil almost every night.

Tuck Woodstock and Sergio Olmos are 2 Portland-based journalists who have been covering protests because late Might.

They signed up with OPB’s “Consider Loud ®” to reflect on almost 2 months of ongoing demonstration protection.

Covering these protests is naturally unsafe: police’s usage of tear gas, impact munitions, pepper balls and other approved violence versus protesters and the press are well-documented. OPB initially reported that federal police officers have been utilizing unmarked lorries to abduct protesters off Portland streets.

The nightly grind of reporting comes at a vital time as federal officers have actually escalated their use of aggressive methods upon protesters.

“Those federal officers, when they do dispersals– some of them bring attack rifles, a few of them are intending handguns … with live ammunition at crowds,” Olmos said.

“They are out there tear gassing whole city blocks and then they pull back inside the courthouse. You can’t inquire anything.”

Protesters demonstrate against racism and police violence in front of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse on July 12, 2020. Earlier in the night, federal law enforcement officers shot a demonstrator in the head with a less lethal impact munition, causing severe injury.

Protesters show against racism and cops violence in front of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse on

July 12, 2020. Previously in the night, federal law enforcement officers shot a demonstrator in the head with a less lethal impact munition, causing severe injury. Jonathan Levinson/OPB Reporters covering the protests are going out with protection: some have helmets and gas masks; others wear Kevlar or chest plates to safeguard themselves from impact munitions, all the while performing their jobs as legal observers.

However without institutional backing from significant media outlets, freelance press reporters witness demonstrations each night– often staying out up until 2 or 3 a.m.– with no guarantee of earning money or compensated.

“This work is being done mostly by freelancers with no health insurance. They come back home, and there’s absolutely nothing on the horizon for making money for any of this,” Olmos said.

“There have actually been nights where I come home absolutely ravaged– tear-gassed, bossed around. I’m mentally at my limitation. And [then] someone sends me like $5 on Venmo, and I just wish to weep and think, ‘Alright, I’m good.’ I’ll return the next day.”

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