Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell issued a joint statement Wednesday condemning police use of force against journalists after several reporters described policing assaulting them while covering the chaotic dispersal of protests in the past two weeks.
"We were deeply disturbed to learn of incidents involving journalists during the demonstrations," Wheeler and Lovell said in the statement. "Members of the media, not just in Portland but around the country, should not be targeted, hurt or arrested while reporting on the demonstrations."
They vowed to thoroughly investigate all reported incidents of assault by police officers against journalists and said they are reviewing the Portland Police Bureau's tactics "to make sure we have the best systems in place that serve our first responders and protects the constitutional rights of our journalists."
This afternoon, Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) tweeted that intimidation of journalists was "appalling and must stop."
Several local reporters, including The Oregonian's Beth Nakamura, the Portland Tribune's Zane Sparling and freelance reporter Donovan Farley reported being assaulted by Portland police while covering protests—even after the reporters declared they were press and showed their credentials.
On June 15, city officials exchanged chilly emails about who should take the lead in investigating journalists' reports of being roughed up by police. WW reported those emails this morning.
On June 16, the Oregon chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists issued a letter to Wheeler expressing their concerns over the Portland police's treatment of reporters. (WW news editor Aaron Mesh was among the signatories.)
"When the recent incidents are considered alongside previous ones—which included similar treatment of independent and freelance journalists—the trend is clear and disturbing," SPJ Oregon wrote. "While using force on people engaging in journalism, some officers are explicitly telling those who identify as press that they do not care—or 'give a shit,' as one officer told Sparling—that they are engaged in journalism."