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Journalists, legal observers exempt from Portland police orders to disperse during protests

Police also cannot arrest, threaten to arrest or use physical force against a person “who they know or reasonably should know” is a journalist or legal observer.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Some journalists and legal observers will be exempt from Portland police orders requiring protesters to disperse after an unlawful assembly or riot is declared, under a 14-day temporary order issued by a judge Thursday. 

Police also cannot arrest, threaten to arrest or use physical force against a person “who they know or reasonably should know” is a journalist or legal observer.  Journalists can be identified by carrying a press pass, badge, or clothing that shows they work for a media company. Similarly, legal observers can be identified by attire from the organization they're representing.

The request for the restraining order came in a lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union or Oregon against Portland Police and the city on behalf of journalists and legal observers.

“We are hopeful this order gets police in Portland one step closer to respecting the Constitution instead of violently suppressing those documenting them abusing it,” said Kelly Simon, interim legal director at the ACLU of Oregon. “Police need to know that everybody is watching.” 

According to OPB, three journalists were arrested Tuesday night while covering protests that turned into a clash outside the police union's headquarters in North Portland.

RELATED: 29 arrested after Portland police declare demonstration outside union headquarters a riot

During that clash, Portland police used CS gas, a form of tear gas, to try and break up the protesters. The bureau declared the protest a riot and said tear gas was used "to protect the life and safety of police personnel" because demonstrators were throwing commercial-grade fireworks at officers. 

Portland police are barred from using tear gas, except for circumstances in which someone’s life or safety is at risk, according to a court order in effect through July 24.

RELATED: Oregon House Speaker calls Portland police response to protesters ‘completely unacceptable’