PORTLAND, Ore. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon has filed a class-action lawsuit against Portland police and the city on behalf of journalists and legal observers who they say were targeted and attacked by the police while documenting protests.
The suit in Federal District Court in Portland says police have used tear gas, pepper spray, shot rubber bullets and thrown flash bangs directly at both journalists and legal observers.
The filings also say police have arrested journalists and legal observers. The complaint lists six primary plaintiffs — two ACLU observers and four journalists — and includes others similarly situated.
Matt Borden, an attorney and partner at Braunhagey & Borden serving as co-counsel with the ACLU, said the lawsuit is intended to try to stop the police from attacking and assaulting legal observers and reporters in the future.
“The whole idea of the First Amendment is it’s a check on government power,” Borden said.
Borden said they are asking for damages for those injured by the conduct. On Tuesday, the ACLU asked the federal court for a temporary restraining order to prevent police from using force, arresting, threatening to arrest or ordering reporters and observers to stop recording or observing a protest.
“Police in Portland are making a mockery of the First Amendment by targeting journalists, using excessive force and by using indiscriminate crowd control weapons,” said Kelly Simon, interim legal director for the ACLU of Oregon.
A city of Portland spokesperson told local news media the city does not comment on pending litigation. The same request for comment sent to the Portland Police Bureau has not been returned.