The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon and Braunhagey & Borden LLP filed a class-action lawsuit on June 28, 2020 on behalf of journalists and legal observers who were targeted and attacked by the police while documenting protests in Portland over the killing of George Floyd. The lawsuit was filed against the City of Portland and law enforcement in Portland. The clients in the case are John Rudoff, Mathieu Lewis-Rolland, Sam Gehrke, Tuck Woodstock, Doug Brown, Kat Mahoney, Sergio Olmos, and Index Newspapers LLC.
Police have fired rubber bullets at journalists and legal observers; tear-gassed them; pepper-sprayed them in the face; beaten them with batons; and thrown flash bangs directly at them. Police have arrested journalists and legal observers. Similar attacks have been reported across the country.
On July 2, U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon issued a 14-day temporary restraining order blocking police from dispersing, arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force against journalists or legal observers at protests. The court order said journalists may be identified by carrying a press pass, press badge, or distinctive clothing that identifies the wearer as a member of the press. Legal observers included in the order can be identified by their green National Lawyers Guild hats or blue ACLU of Oregon vests. Police also may not seize any photographic equipment, audio- or video-recording equipment, or press passes from journalists and legal observers, or order journalists or legal observers to stop photographing, recording, or observing a protest.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Portland Division. It seeks an order declaring law enforcement’s actions unconstitutional and prohibiting them from targeting and attacking journalists again. The lawsuit also seeks damages for injuries sustained.