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Federal Agents Banned From Using Physical Force Against Journalists, Observers in Portland

© REUTERS / Caitlin OchsFederal law enforcement officers in Portland, Oregon
Federal law enforcement officers in Portland, Oregon - Sputnik International
PORTLAND (Sputnik) - A US court issued an order prohibiting federal law enforcement agents deployed in Portland from using physical force against journalists covering protests in the city and legal observers present on the ground, according to the ruling.
“The Federal Defendants, their agents and employees, and all persons acting under their direction are enjoined from arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force directed against any person whom they know or reasonably should know is a Journalist or Legal Observer (as explained below), unless the Federal Defendants have probable cause to believe that such individual has committed a crime”, the US District Court for the District of Oregon decided in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Judge Michael Simon explained that such persons shall not be required to disperse following the issuance of an order to disperse, and shall not be subject to arrest for not dispersing following the issuance of an order to disperse.

The ruling specifically prohibits federal agents to seize “any photographic equipment, audio- or video- recording equipment, or press passes from any person whom they know or reasonably should know is a Journalist or Legal Observer”. They are also not allowed to order such persons “to stop photographing, recording, or observing a protest”.

“The Federal Defendants shall not be liable for violating this injunction if a Journalist or Legal Observer is incidentally exposed to crowd-control devices after remaining in the area where such devices were deployed after the issuance of an otherwise lawful dispersal order”, the judge decided.

The order expires in two weeks unless extended.

On Wednesday, the Portland City Council banned local police from coordinating with federal agents and using force against journalists and legal observers.

Federal officers, who were sent to Portland against the will of the local authorities in an attempt to quell protests in the city, have attacked, tear-gassed and beaten scores of people.

President Donald Trump defended the deployment of federal officers, stating that his administration is “trying to help Portland, not hurt it”.

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