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

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of journalists and legal observers who say they were "attacked" by police at protests in Portland.
Credit: Ken McCormick, KGW
Crowd outside the Justice Center during night time protest.

PORTLAND, Ore — On Sunday, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the city of Portland and the police for “targeting and attacking” journalists and legal observers who were at protests in Portland over the death of George Floyd, an email from the ACLU said.

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon and a San Francisco based law firm, Braunhagey & Borden LLP, filed the lawsuit on behalf of journalists and legal observers and seeks to declare law enforcement's actions unconstitutional and prohibit them from interfering with journalists reporting moving forward. It also is asking for damages for injuries sustained during protests.

According to the statement, the ACLU said journalists and legal observers have had rubber bullets fired at them, been tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, beaten with a baton and had flashbangs thrown at them.

“I felt it to be my civic duty to use my skills and equipment to document this important moment in history,” plaintiff Mathieu Lewis-Rolland, a freelance photographer, said in the email. “I was horrified and bewildered by what I witnessed.”

Lewis-Rolland, along with Tuck Woodstock, Kat Mahoney, Doug Brown, Sam Gehrke and John Rudoff are all listed as plaintiffs in the complaint.

Mahoney is a local lawyer, she said in the email that she volunteers with ACLU to monitor protests as a legal observer. She said even though she was wearing an ACLU of Oregon legal observer vest she was tear-gassed and hit by shrapnel from a rubber bullet.

“These protesters are there to say Black Lives Matter, and to end police brutality targeting people based on the color of their skin,” Mahoney said. “It is ridiculous that protesters of police brutality are then subjected to police brutality.”

KGW has reached out to the city of Portland and police bureau for comment but have not heard back.

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