The group said the number of assaults against the US journalists so far in 2020 is “unlike anything we’ve seen in modern history.”
The press freedom watchdog has documented more incidents so far this year than in the previous three years combined, saying there have been more than 612 press freedom incidents in 72 cities and 35 states so far this year.
The figure includes more than 87 arrests, 140 physical attacks, 143 injuries from rubber bullets or projectiles, and 76 cases where equipment was damaged. There have also been dozens of cases of journalists being tear-gassed or hit with pepper spray by the US police.
The city of Portland, Oregon, which has been the scene of heavy-handed crackdown against anti-racism protests sparked by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, has the highest reported numbers of assaults against the press, as well as the highest number of journalists hit with projectiles.
The watchdog said journalists have increasingly found themselves caught in the crossfire of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests which have rocked the US in recent months.
US federal agents, deployed by President Donald Trump against Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland, have been accused of using excessive force against protesters and media who have been covering the anti-racism demonstrations.
The federal agents have been put on 'standby' after a US judge placed a temporary restraining order on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) forces to prevent them from using crowd control measures against members of the press.
Some journalists have also complained that protesters have been identifying themselves as press, saying these alleged tactics have put actual journalists in danger besides the acts of aggression by the police against the press.