ACLU of Oregon files class-action lawsuit against Portland police, city

(KPTV image)

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – The ACLU of Oregon on Sunday announced it has filed a class-action lawsuit against Portland police and the city of Portland. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of journalists and legal observers who they say were targeted and attacked by police while documenting the recent protests in Portland. 

The ACLU says police have fired rubber bullets at journalists and legal observers, tear-gassed them, pepper-sprayed them in the face, beat them with batons, and thrown flash bangs directly at them.

Police have also arrested journalists and legal observers, according to the ACLU.

"They have an absolute constitutional right to record what's going on and report that to the rest of the world," Co-counsel Matt Borden said.

The suit outlines more than a dozen examples of what the ACLU calls targeting, including video from KBOO reporter Cory Elia showing him getting pepper sprayed in the face as he was live streaming while walking through a park. In the video, you can see an officer turn abruptly, and without warning, spray Elia in the eyes. The spray gets on the camera lens.

"They just sprayed me," Elia yelled in the video. "I'm down, I can't see," he continues from the ground.

Two ACLU legal observers are listed as plaintiffs in the case. Legal observers attend protests to watch and document interactions between protestors and police. Doug Brown is one of the plaintiffs.

In the complaint, Brown said police fired flash bangs directly at him, hit him with their batons, and also threatened to arrest him.

"They're calling out, 'hey ACLU guy, hey you in the ACLU vest, get out of here or you're going to be arrested,'" Brown said.

According to the court document, rubber bullets barely missed legal observer Kat Mahoney's head on June 10.

"In this past month, I've seen police violence on a level I've never seen before, and I've been doing this since about 2017," Mahoney said.

The four other plaintiffs in the case are independent, freelance journalists.

The lawsuit seeks an order to declare law enforcement’s actions unconstitutional and prohibit them from targeting and attacking journalists again. The suit also seeks damages for injuries sustained.

FOX 12 reached out to the Portland Police Bureau, but have not heard back.

A spokesperson with the city of Portland said the city doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Borden, with BraunHagey & Borden LLP, expects the case will be heard in court soon.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


Recommended for you

(8) comments


The stupid idiots should not have been in the middle of it. Even KPTV stays somewhat clear when doing a report. They should sue whomever pays them for putting in that sort of situation. Not the Police. Another waste of Tax Payers money I am sure in one way or another.

Frederick Fukov

Cops are smart. They know the ACLU being there only emboldens the domestic terrorists. They were right to kick 'em out. In this case, the ACLU are active participants and co-conspirators.

Eliza Cassan

Why don't they ever sue the groups that are behind the violence? They lit a police station on fire, with officers and inmates inside last week, shot officers in the face with paintballs, that's fine by the ACLU, but the police responding to that? Oh, better sue the police

Just curious

Because there's no money from ANTIFA, or any other bullies.


ACLU, looking for some attention. It's a riot stupid, get out of the area.

Husky Loyalist

Of course, no issues with Antifa and BLM for destroying part of city, businesses and causing all of the injuries to the police. The Communists must stick together.


Lawyers are bottom feeders and the ACLU is the lowest form of lawyers.

The are not necessary for anything. We need to get rid of all lawyers and replace them with medical people. Once that is done, this planet will be a much better place for the rest of us.

Frederick Fukov

OHHHhhh..A-C-L-U. I thought they said UCLA. Dam dyslexia.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.