A U.S. appeals court delivered another win for content creators by reiterating that the feds CANNOT use force, threats, or dispersal orders against journalists and legal observers at Portland, OR protests.
It’s a shame that something that seems so clearly obvious requires a court order but in this chapter of U.S. reality, it does.
Portland, OR Protests Spark Lawsuits
Initially, journalists, photographers and other legal observers filed lawsuits against local authorities, claiming they were being targeted for arrest and subjected to aggressive dispersal tactics while covering the Portland, OR protests.
The Portland police agreed to back off and allow content creators and legal observers to remain in areas deemed closed to the public so that they could do their work.
But then, the feds came in and reportedly started targeting journalists and other legal observers, using dispersal options, such as tear gas, flash-bang grenades, and pepper spray.
So, U.S. District Judge Michael Simon let the plaintiffs add federal agents the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service, Customs and Border Control and Federal Protective Services as defendants in the case.
Simon then entered a temporary restraining order, which he later made more permanent by making it into a preliminary injunction, barring federal agents from assaulting or arresting journalists or legal observers.
His order was supposed to cover anyone wearing a press pass, carrying professional journalistic gear or otherwise marking themselves as members of the media.
The order also included freelancers, and legal observers, such as ACLU observers and attorneys.
But according to court documents, the day Simon issued the initial order the feds gave it the finger and used paint balls, rubber bullets, and other aggressive tactics against people identified as press or protected groups.
And they continued to do it.
Of course, the government claimed the agents responsible for those actions couldn’t be identified.
So, in the injunction Simon also required federal agents to wear unique numbers so those who violate the order could be identified.
“Without journalists and legal observers, there is only the government’s side of the story… “
The Trump administration challenged the injunction, placing it on hold.
Let that absorb into your brain—the government fought for the ability to target journalists and other people who are working, not protesting.
But this month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals restored the court injunction.
“This is a crucial victory for civil liberties and the freedom of the press, which are critical to the functioning of our democracy,” attorney Matthew Borden to the Associated Press.
Don’t Forget: Tips for Covering Protests
And Listen To: LA Times: New Ownership, New Management, Same Toxic Culture