CopBlaster.com would like to publicly thank United States District Judge Michael Simon for taking swift action to protect freedom of the press in Portland, Oregon. This afternoon Judge Simon issued an order that exempts journalist with mainstream media outlets wearing press passes and legal observers from Portland Police dispersal orders. This order comes less than 24 hours after three journalists (Leslie McLam, Cory Elia, Justin Yau) were assaulted by Portland Police and arrested just for filming a protest. You can read the full Temporary Restraining Order by clicking on the PDF icon button above this article.
Journalists Tuck Woodstock, John Rudoff, Mathieu Lewis-Rolland and Sam Gehrke filed the lawsuit along with legal observers Doug Brown and Kat Mahoney on behalf of themselves and those similarly situated. Defendants are named as the City of Portland and 60 John Doe officers. In the lawsuit (https://aclu-or.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/woodstock_portland_aclu_or_06282020.pdf) Plaintiffs allege that "The police's efforts to intimidate the press and suppress reporting on the police's own misconduct offends fundamental constitutional protections and strikes at the core of our democracy." Judge Simon agreed and issue the following order:
TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER
1. Defendants and their agents and employees, including but not limited to the Portland Police Bureau and all persons acting under the direction of the Portland Police Bureau ( collectively, "the Police"), 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 Police have probable cause to believe that such individual has committed a crime. For purposes of this Order, such persons shall not be required to disperse following the issuance of an order to disperse, and such persons shall not be subject to arrest for not dispersing following the issuance of an order to disperse. Such persons shall, however, remain bound by all other laws.
2. Defendants and their agents and employees, including but not limited to the Portland Police Bureau and all persons acting under the direction of the Portland Police Bureau (collectively, "the Police"), are further enjoined from seizing 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 (as explained below), or ordering such
person to stop photographing, recording, or observing a protest, unless Defendants are also lawfully seizing that person consistent with this Order. Police must return any seized equipment or press passes immediately upon release of a person from custody.
3. To facilitate the Police's identification of Journalists protected under this Order, the following shall be considered indicia of being a Journalist: visual identification as a member of the press, such as by carrying a professional or authorized press pass or wearing a professional or authorized press badge or distinctive clothing that identifies the wearer as a member of the press. These indicia are not exclusive, and a person need not exhibit every indicium to be considered a Journalist under this Order. The Police shall not be liable for unintentional violations of this Order in the case of an individual who does not carry a press pass or wear a press badge or distinctive clothing that identifies the wearer as a member of the press.
4. To facilitate the Police's identification of Legal Observers protected under this Order, the following shall be considered indicia of being a Legal Observer: wearing a green National Lawyers' Guild issued or authorized Legal Observer hat (typically a green NLG hat) or wearing a blue ACLU issued or authorized Legal Observer vest.
5. The Police may issue otherwise lawful crowd-dispersal orders for a variety of lawful reasons. The Police shall not be liable for violating this Order 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 by the Police of an otherwise lawful dispersal order.
6. In the interest of justice, Plaintiffs need not provide any security, and all requirements under Rule 65(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are waived.
7. This Order shall expire fourteen (14) days after entry, unless otherwise extended by stipulation of the parties or by further order of the Court.
8. The parties shall confer and propose to the Court a schedule for briefing and hearing on whether the Court should issue a preliminary injunction.