PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland’s mayor and police chief say they will review police tactics after hearing accounts of officers threatening and roughing up journalists covering demonstrations against police brutality.
“Members of the media, not just in Portland but around the country, should not be targeted, hurt, or arrested while reporting on demonstrations,” Mayor Ted Wheeler and Chief Chuck Lovell wrote in an open letter to the press.
They also called for all such incidents to be investigated “thoroughly,” The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
At least nine Portland journalists, including two from The Oregonian/OregonLive, say they’ve been beaten, shoved, pepper-sprayed or harassed during the protests that have continued for three weeks. Similar scenes have played out in Oregon and across the country during the demonstrations protesting George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis under the knee of a police officer.
Officers have arrested, tear-gassed, manhandled and shot rubber bullets directly at members of the news media even when they have identified themselves as reporters.
Many of the local episodes have been captured on video, An online petition asking the Portland Police Bureau to cease “assaulting and intimidating reporters” has garnered 3,300 signatures since Monday.
In their letter, Wheeler and Lovell said any investigations into police misconduct must be conducted through the city-run Independent Police Review office. Wheeler said last week he wanted to overhaul the city’s police oversight system because it didn’t have “any real teeth.”