Kelly Simon, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Oregon, attended a June 4, 2017, rally and counter protest a neautral legal observer. 

During the protests, Portland police officers opened fire on crowds of people with pepper spray and impact munitions. Kelly, wearing an easily-recognizable ACLU of Oregon Legal Observer vest, was hit in the back of her leg, causing a massive and painful bruise. 

Kelly's statement

My name is Kelly Simon. I am the staff attorney for the ACLU of Oregon. However, I am not standing up here today in my official capacity. Instead, I am here in my personal capacity as a plaintiff in one of the ACLU’s newly filed lawsuits seeking accountability for the repeated and excessive force that Oregonians have experienced at the hands of Portland police officers.
 
As many Portlanders are aware, on June 4, 2017, days after the hate-filled killing of two men on a Max train who dared to stand up to the racist threats of a white supremacist, large crowds of protesters gathered in downtown Portland. Given the size of the crowds anticipated that day, I decided to join the volunteer ACLU of Oregon and National Lawyers Guild legal observers, many of whom are also local attorneys. 
 
As the ACLU of Oregon legal observers do at every protest, I put on a bright blue vest to distinguish myself from the protesters, I paired up with a buddy for safety, and I charged my cell phone to capture pictures and video through the ACLU Mobile Justice app. I anticipated the day would be long and intense but I was not prepared for what would come next.
 
Close to the time that the Patriot Prayer protest was scheduled to end, PPB announced that the south end of Chapman Park, the end closest to the Patriot Prayer protest, was closed. At that time, I was observing in front of the Chapman Park crowd where the police line stood. 
 
While the large crowd was slowly moving out of the park, police began deploying crowd control weapons. You could hear the loud bangs. It sounded like what I imagine a warzone to sound like. I remember the panic growing as my eyes burned from whatever chemical agent they had sprayed into the crowd. I remember thinking, what if I can’t see soon and I’m stuck in this crowd while the assault continues. Then, out of nowhere, as I was continuing to make my way out of the park, I felt a sharp pain in the back of my left leg. 
 
I was shot by the police in the middle of downtown Portland on a Sunday afternoon for doing exactly what they asked of me. And my story is not unique. This is unacceptable.
 
When I got home later that day, I already had a large bruise forming on the back of my leg. For a couple nights, I woke up suddenly thinking I heard loud bangs. The bruise lasted weeks. 
 
I could have been a child. I could have been somebody elderly. I could have been a bystander swept up in the wrong moment. I could have been a frequent protester. That day, I was just a neutral, peaceful observer. But no matter who might have been in my shoes that day, nobody should have been shot. 
 
When a protest is planned, many peoples’ first question is, “Does the protest have a permit?” I’ve even fallen prey to this automatic thinking. What we really want to know is will it be safe to bring my kids or should I carry a jug of milk in my backpack in case I get caught in a cloud of pepper spray? No Oregonian should be afraid to make their voice heard.  But we are. And the police should not be regularly brutalizing protesters. But they are. And it is unacceptable.
 
I no longer trust the Portland Police when they claim they care about our rights and safety at protests. That is why I’m suing them.

Attorney(s)

Steven Wilker, William Gent

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Tonkon Torp

Court

Multnomah County Circuit Court

Status

Active

Case number

18cv08279

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