Shane Burley: Inside the battle for Portland with the independent journalists on the streets

As federal agents snatch protesters in unmarked vans, the reporters covering the Portland uprising are facing intense and unprecedented repression.

Waging Nonviolence, July 18, 2020

On the night of July 11, as hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters amassed around the Justice Center in Portland, Oregon, federal Homeland Security officers opened fire with “crowd control” munitions. They shot a teargas canister directly at the head of Donavan LaBella, a peaceful protester who had been standing across the street holding a sign. The video that captured the protester — unconscious, bleeding and being carried to safety by other demonstrators and street medics — went viral almost immediately, pushing state officials to make public statements and demand that federal law enforcement pull back.

This video was shot by a 17-year-old independent journalist Garrison Davis, who was filming on his cell phone and broadcasting on Twitter. He had spent almost every night of the past two months documenting the uprising and the police’s response to it.

“We wouldn’t have the statements from [Gov.] Kate Brown today if it wasn’t for people like me filming last night,” Davis said. After the video was circulated, the governor, Sen. Ron Wyden, and most of the Portland City Council spoke up and condemned the police behavior. 

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