For 14 nights in July, Eddy Binford-Ross, the South Salem High School senior at the helm of the school newspaper, The Clypian, was tear-gassed by federal officers as she reported on Portland’s George Floyd demonstrations for the paper’s website and Twitter account. “I had several stun grenades thrown toward me when I was clearly marked as press and was standing off to the side away from protesters,” says the 17-year-old. “I was also shoved into a wall as I was trying to move out of the way, with my hands up. There was also an incident in which a federal agent pointed a crowd-control munitions gun toward me and the press corps as we stood off to the side, away from protesters. The agent was then told what sounded like, ‘That’s press, don’t shoot,’ at which point he turned his gun away momentarily and then turned it back and pointed it right at me.”
Prior to the murder of George Floyd and the demonstrations that had sprung up around the country to protest his death and police brutality, Eddy covered a number of different topics, from student profiles and sports stories to national and local politics. But her consistent presence at Black Lives Matter demonstrations in both Salem and Portland have put her and The Clypian in the spotlight. The paper’s Twitter account had a few hundred followers before Eddy started live-tweeting from nightly Portland protests; the account now clocks 12,000-plus followers.
“It was sometimes hard to witness such a dangerous and dynamic situation, especially because there were moments where I thought something really bad could happen and that someone could end up dying,” says Eddy.
“For example, I saw agents with assault rifles; once I saw them point at a vehicle with people in it. The hours were also difficult — there were some nights where I wouldn’t get home until 4:30 am. However, none of that deterred me from wanting to document what was going on. It was surprising how much I learned about the crowd-control munitions that law enforcement uses. That was knowledge I never expected to gain, ever. I also learned how much tear gas hurts. … I also think I learned a lot about resiliency.”
As the fall semester starts up, Eddy will focus on providing readers with helpful information on schooling in the age of COVID-19 and encouraging Clypian staff to give the paper’s website a visual refresh. She’d also like to keep The Clypian’s newfound social-media followers engaged. Eddy is not sure if she will pursue a career in journalism, but whatever her career path, she plans to stay on the front lines.