A federal judge on Thursday blocked City of Portland officials, including Portland Police, from arresting, threatening to arrest or using physical force against journalists or legal observers unless they "reasonably know" that person has committed a crime, the ACLU of Oregon announced in a July 16 press release.
U.S. District Judge Michael Simon issued the injunction, which will expire Oct. 30, 2020.
The ACLU of Oregon and BraunHagey & Borden LLP filed the class action lawsuit against the city of Portland on Sunday, June 28. They filed on behalf of several reporters and legal observers who allege police assaulted them while documenting the protests against police brutality that have taken place continuously since George Floyd was killed by police at the end of May.
"This injunction is a critical protection for journalists and legal observers exercising their fundamental right to record and observe police activities at these important protests," Matthew Borden, a partner at BraunHagey & Borden LLP and pro bono counsel for the ACLU Foundation of Oregon, said in the release. "We are looking forward to fully and finally vindicating the rights of journalists and legal observers while this protection is in place."
The order also blocks police from ordering reporters and legal observers from recording or seizing recording devices or press passes unless they are being legally arrested.
The order states that press passes and badges or clothing that identifies the wearer as a journalist should help police identify journalists, but journalists do not need to have all indicators in order to be identified as a journalist.
However, the order specifically states that police will not be liable for "unintentional violations" of the order because a journalist is wearing distinctive clothing or a press pass or badge.
To help police identify legal observers, the observers should wear authorized or issued green National Lawyers' Guild hats or blue ACLU Legal Observer vest, the injunction states.
According to the order, the injunction does not stop police from using legal crowd dispersal methods, and they will not be liable if reporters or legal observers are exposed to crowd dispersal devices because they stayed after a crowd was ordered to disperse.
Portland journalists and legal observers "shall not be required to disperse following the issuance of an order to disperse," according to the injunction.
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