PORTLAND, Ore. — Today the Multnomah County Circuit Court held that the Portland Police Bureau’s practice of filming and broadcasting protesters via livestreams broadcast internally, such as in the bureau’s situation room and on social media such as Twitter, violates state law that prohibits police from collecting or maintaining information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities of people who are not suspected of criminal activity. The court also held that PPB’s livestreams violate an agreement between the ACLU of Oregon and the City of Portland/PPB regarding the collection of information about protestors.
In this lawsuit against the City of Portland, the ACLU of Oregon and Marie Tyvoll (“Protestor No. 1”) were represented by ACLU of Oregon pro bono attorneys Edward Piper, Ursula Lalović, and Joanna Perini-Abbott of Angeli Law Group LLC; Alan Lloyd Kessler; Rian Peck of Visible Law; and Kelly Simon of the ACLU Foundation of Oregon.
Community activist Tracy Lynn Molina stated: “My legal name is Tracy Lynn Molina. I use Cozcacuauhtli for my Indigenous name. I'm a grandmother and a disabled veteran who participated in protests in Portland. It should be obvious to Portland Police that live streaming people like me outs me and my family at a considerable risk. It gives our exact location away in real time. You would not do that to Portland citizens you claim to protect and serve.”
Plaintiff Marie Tyvoll (Protestor No. 1) stated: “When I showed up to support Black Lives at a protest, I did not expect that the police would invest so much time, money, and energy in broadcasting my face over the internet. Standing up to injustice is important to me; having my own government deliberately put me at risk for broadcasting my location and political stance — known as ‘doxxing’ — is unbelievable. In a time when extremists and hate groups violently attack activists, I am grateful that the Court saw how harmful this practice is and chose to put a permanent stop to it.”
Juan Chavez, Director of the Civil Rights Project at Oregon Justice Resource Center, stated: “The City Government of Portland saw a nationwide uprising in defense of the Black lives stolen by the police and decided to surveil it. History warns us about the kinds of people who do this to their own community, and history should judge the City accordingly. We’re grateful for the public for once again standing up to the City, and for the courts for upholding the laws of Oregon — even against one of the most powerful agencies in our state.”
Community activist Jake Dockter stated: “Portland Police Bureau has, again, been found to be violating our law. More impactful, and harder to repair, is the continued violation of community trust. Mayor Wheeler, Chief Lovell, and union leader Daryl Turner build what they call ‘reform’ and ‘accountability’ but again, a peek behind the door shows their flimsy and hollow facade. Portlanders want to transform the justice system. To get there, we need truth telling. This suit shows the truth that the Portland Police Bureau continues to violate the law. From here, Mayor Wheeler can choose to transform and truly hold police accountable or maintain the status quo of brutality and obfuscation and violations. Portland has made our demands clear. We wait to see who has the courage to follow us.”
Rabbi Ariel Stone, Convener of the Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance, stated: “Only in an authoritarian police state are the rights of individuals to privacy and freedom of speech and assembly trampled upon without recourse. Despite the police commissioner’s dereliction of duty, thank God we in Portland have not fallen to that level. The repeated proof of lawlessness of those sworn to protect and serve should concern every resident of Portland; we deserve better from our tax dollars. The cry of justice rises from the streets, and it will not be silenced. It’s long past time to re-imagine what effective public safety looks like.”
Pro bono attorney Edward Piper of Angelia Law Group LLC stated: “We’re very happy with Judge Ryan’s ruling, which shows that the law can keep pace with evolving technology.”
Pro bono attorney Alan Kessler stated: “The Portland Police Bureau and the Portland City Attorney’s office are accustomed to playing word games with our civil liberties. We are grateful that Judge Ryan saw through the City’s obfuscation and identified the PPB’s practice of filming and live-streaming demonstrators for what it is: an unlawful collection of information about protesters’ free speech activities.”
ACLU Foundation of Oregon Legal Director Kelly Simon stated: “We are pleased that Judge Ryan was willing to apply Oregon law in a commonsense way to protect our right to protest without fear of government surveillance or government-supported doxing. This should put all Oregon law enforcement agencies on notice that police have no business filming, photographing, or otherwise collecting information on protesters. Protest is fundamental to democracy. Protest is not a crime. Period.”
Links to Relevant Documents:
ACLU of Oregon’s prior press statement about this case is here: https://www.aclu-or.org/en/press-releases/aclu-sues-stop-portland-police-livestreaming-protests
An ACLU of Oregon briefing paper on relevant Oregon law is here: https://aclu-or.org/sites/default/files/181575_Briefing_Paper_02.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3mdsa0WeeE273OI0DCm6HAmCJaSsAqiEvO15GqOTzUQeiLj_0DtidmdsA
The 1988 agreement between the ACLU of Oregon and the City of Portland/Portland Police Bureau regarding the collection of information about protesters is here: https://aclu-or.org/sites/default/files/1988_ppb_acluor_agreement.pdf.
The complaint is online here: https://aclu-or.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/acluor_portland_complaint_ex_a.pdf
About ACLU Oregon:
The ACLU of Oregon is an affiliate of the national ACLU which has affiliates in 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. The ACLU of Oregon is a nonpartisan, nonprofit membership organization with more than 28,000 members statewide. The organization works in the courts, in the legislature, and in communities to defend and advance our civil liberties and civil rights under the U.S. and Oregon constitutions and the laws of the United States and Oregon.