PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Journalists and legal observers will remain exempt from Portland police orders requiring protesters to disperse under an injunction issued by a federal judge Thursday.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon issued a 14-day temporary order after a class-action lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon against the Portland Police Bureau and the city on behalf of journalists and legal observers. The journalists and observers say they have been targeted and attacked by the police while documenting protests.
As part of Thursday’s order, which is in effect through Oct. 30, police also cannot arrest, threaten to arrest or use physical force against a person “who they know or reasonably should know” is a journalist or legal observer.
The order says officers are not to seize their cameras, audio or videotaping equipment or press passes unless police have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. Police are also barred from ordering journalists or legal observers to stop photographing, recording or observing a protest.
“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,” said Matthew Borden, partner at BraunHagey & Borden LLP and pro bono counsel for the ACLU Foundation of Oregon. “We are looking forward to fully and finally vindicating the rights of journalists and legal observers while this protection is in place.”
The court order says journalists may be identified by having a press pass, badge or clothing that identifies them as a member of the press. Legal observers included in the order can be identified by green National Lawyers Guild hats or blue ACLU of Oregon vests.
The lawsuit in Federal District Court in Portland says police have used tear gas, shot rubber bullets and thrown flash bangs at journalists and legal observers in addition to arresting them. The complaint lists six primary plaintiffs — two ACLU observers and four journalists.
The lawsuit seeks damages for those injured.
A City of Portland spokesperson has said the city does not comment on pending litigation.