PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – The man who was beaten with a baton and pepper sprayed by federal agents in downtown Portland Saturday night says he was there to talk with officers.
Chris David, a Navy Veteran, told FOX12 he had never been to a protest before and something clicked watching videos of the federal response around the courthouse in Downtown Portland. He says he wanted to talk with agents on what he says is a violation of their constitutional oath.
“It seemed like they were trying to incite more than they were trying to end these protests, so I decided to go down Saturday night,” David said. “Watching what was happening finally pushed me over the threshold where I was willing to risk getting COVID in order to go protest.”
He says he took a bus to downtown and at first didn’t know where the protest was happening until he asked a group who looked like they were heading to it.
“The way I was going to induce them to talk to me was I was going to wear all my Navy gear,” David said. “I was going to wear my Naval academy sweatshirt, my Naval wrestling hat, and my backpack with all my civil engineer patches on it and stuff like that.”
Once he got to the Federal Courthouse, he says for a few hours he watched what was going on with the protests. At one point he says a group was trying to take down the fence surrounding the building. He said another group of people was trying to stop them.
David says he was getting ready to leave around 10:15 p.m. when he says federal officers came out of the building.
“Running at the protesters in the intersection and barreling into them knocking them down. When I saw that I walked out of the park into the street and I stayed in the street in front of the courthouse,” David said.
At that point he said tear gas canisters were flying through the sky and the attention of federal agents turned to him.
He says an officer pointed a gun at his chest, and another barreled into him knocking him back a few feet. That’s when he says he was hit several times with a baton and sprayed in the face with pepper spray.
“I took a pretty strong stance and relaxed my body and I let them beat me with batons,” David said. "What really got me to move was that pepper spray right to the face. That was an incredible incentive to turn around and give up on this one.”
He says he made his way to the park where he was helped by a street medic and eventually went to the VA Hospital. David says he has a few bruises and a broken wrist which will require surgery.
Tuesday, during a Homeland Security press briefing Federal officials said that the Department of Justice was investigating the incident. They also said that the people involved were from the U.S. Marshall’s Office.
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf told reporters federal officers will remain in Portland to protect Federal buildings.
Also Tuesday, several of Oregon’s Congressional delegation took to the House and Senate floor.
“This is the face of the Trump administrations interference in our community taking a difficult situation and making it worse,” Congressman Earl Blumenauer said.
For David he says he doesn’t want the original message of the protests to get lost in what is currently happening.
“Black Lives Matter is the reason we are out there, and we can’t lose sight of that and I sometimes think, this is a case of gas lighting again. Where in order to distract from one crisis, another new crisis is generated and we forget all about the Black Lives Matter movement because now it is an old white dude getting beat up by the cops,” David said.
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