Portland Veterans, Abducted Protester, Black Activists Sue Trump in ACLU Lawsuit

Affiliate: ACLU of Oregon
August 26, 2020 12:15 pm

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Protesters who were abducted, beaten, and gassed by federal agents in Portland, Oregon, are suing President Trump, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service, DHS officials, and the federal agents that violated the protesters’ civil rights in a lawsuit filed today by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon and Stoel Rives LLP.

Plaintiffs in the suit include:

  • Chris David, the Navy veteran who made national headlines after videos showed him being beaten and gassed by federal agents,
  • Mark Pettibone, the protester who also made national headlines after being abducted by unmarked federal agents in an unmarked minivan,
  • Mac Smiff, a protester was shot in the head with an impact munition by federal agents, knocking him to the ground and temporarily blinding him
  • Duston Obermeyer, a veteran who was beaten with batons and shot point-blank with a chemical irritant
  • Andre Miller, a protester who was shot in the head
  • Nichol Denison, a veteran who has hit in the head with a tear gas canister
  • Maureen “Mo” Healy, a college professor who was hit in the head with a metal projectile
  • James McNulty, a protester who was shot in the back
  • And organizations Black Millennial Movement and Rose City Justice

“Protesting is supposed to be the bedrock of democracy, but when protests are about Black lives, it is shut down,” said Shanice Clarke, from Black Millennial Movement, a plaintiff in the suit. “The very idea that Black people deserve humanity and decency is something that police and federal law enforcement agencies are so opposed to that they’ve employed nearly lethal responses. Our government should not have come here to suppress this movement.”

The lawsuit seeks damages for injuries sustained by eight individual plaintiffs and two organizational plaintiffs as well as a judgment declaring that the actions of the Trump Administration and its federal agents in Portland violated the Constitution and federal law.

“Our clients were protesting in support of Black Lives Matter, but they were met by indiscriminate violence from federal police forces intent on squelching their message and their Constitutional rights,” said Jeremy Sacks, a partner at Stoel Rives, which is providing legal services on a pro bono basis. We will hold the federal government and the individual agents accountable for their actions.”

“President Trump, Chad Wolf and this administration have attempted to silence a movement that dares to realize the American dream of a nation where everyone, not just white people, can live free,” said Kelly Simon, interim legal director of the ACLU of Oregon. “This lawsuit seeks to hold the Trump administration accountable for its dangerous and profoundly unconstitutional actions in Portland. Black lives matter.”

Plaintiff Mac Smiff, a protester, was shot in the head with an impact munition that knocked him to the ground and partially blinded him with paint.

“We are protesting the police killing George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. That’s what brought us out to the streets. Our goal is to stop police abuses and murders, and that means that we have to defund them. That is what we are fighting for.”

Plaintiff Andre Miller, 36, was shot in the head with a tear gas canister by federal agents on July 22. “The protests in Portland gave me a way to voice my concerns as a Black Oregonian, and were a place where my family found community,” Miller said. “The federal agents that came to Portland called us “thugs,” and attacked protesters night after night. But they won’t stop us from working to make our city and state better for Black people.”

Plaintiff Mark Pettibone, 30, was abducted on July 15 off the streets of Portland into an unmarked minivan by people in military fatigues later identified as federal agents. “I still haven’t fully come to terms with what it means that I was kidnapped by my government,” Pettibone said. “People need to know what happened to me and the government needs to be held accountable so that what happened to me doesn’t happen to someone else.”

An op-ed by Pettibone published today in Buzzfeed is here: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/markpettibone/i-was-abducted-by-federal-agents-in-portland.

The plaintiffs also include three veterans who were beaten by federal agents, Christopher David, Duston Obermeyer, and Nichol Denison. A video of David being beaten by federal agents went viral. “I swore an oath to defend the Constitution,” David said. “If unchecked, the flagrant violations of our civil liberties in Portland will undermine our freedoms all across the country.”

An op-ed by David published today in USA Today is here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/08/26/aclu-christopher-david-sue-federal-agents-dhs-beating-column/5634066002/.

This is the third ACLU of Oregon lawsuit against the federal forces deployed to Portland, including a lawsuit on behalf of protests medics and a lawsuit on behalf of journalists and legal observers.

Today’s lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon and Stoel Rives LLP in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Portland Division. Lawyers on the lawsuit include Per A. Ramfjord, Jeremy D. Sacks, Joel Mullin, Todd A. Hanchett, Amy Edwards, Geoffrey B. Tichenor, Steven J. Boender, Rachel C. Lee, Crystal S. Chase, Andrew T. Ho, and Jacob Goldberg from Stoel Rives LLP and Kelly Simon of the ACLU of Oregon.

More information about the clients and the lawsuit is online here: https://aclu-or.org/en/cases/black-millennial-movement-et-al-v-trump

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