ACLU sues Portland over police 'assaults' of reporters, protest observers
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the city of Portland because of what it says are police assaults against reporters and legal observers during recent political protests.
The lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon and Braunhagey & Borden LLP was announced Sunday, June 28. Among other things, it charges that police in Portland have fired rubber bullets, tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, beaten and arrested journalists documenting the protests. Lawyers are asking a judge to certify the lawsuit as a class action on behalf of all members of the media who covered the local protests.
"It is dangerous for police to be attacking the media this way, this is not the America we want to live in," Matt Borden, partner at Braunhagey & Borden, said in the press release announcing the lawsuit. "The free press is a core and important right in this country that helps keep the government in line."
Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Chuck Lovell have condemned all such alleged incidents and promised to investigate them. Wheeler's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. It seeks an order declaring law enforcement's actions unconstitutional and prohibiting them from targeting and attacking journalists again. The lawsuit also seeks damages for injuries sustained.
Portland Tribune reporter Zane Sparling is among those documenting a confrontation was police while covering a protest. He captured cell phone video of an unidentified officer pushing him into a wall and dismissing his identification as a member of the press with a profanity.
Portland Police charge protesters tonight.— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) June 14, 2020
Officer: I donâ€šÃ„Ã´t give a shit! Go!
I was shoved into the wall, then hit in the heel by some sort of crowd control munition. Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m fine pic.twitter.com/daPElkEb6J
Pamplin Media Group, parent company of the Portland Tribune, was asked to join the lawsuit and declined. The lawsuit also names freelance journalists whose work has been published by the Portland Tribune in the past, including Sergio Olmos and John Rudoff.
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