US agents to pull back in Portland but will stay on standby

Demonstrators retreat as federal officer launch tear gas on them during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Portland, Ore.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Portland Police Bureau, challenging its live streaming of protests.

The ACLU of Oregon contends the bureau’s practice of filming and broadcasting protesters 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 police livestream zooms in on individual faces, making protesters vulnerable to face surveillance technology, the civil rights agency contends.

The police bureau’s live stream has been one of dozens of live streams of nightly demonstrations in Portland.

“Unlawful police surveillance threatens our First Amendment rights,” said Jann Carson, interim executive director of the ACLU of Oregon. “The Portland Police Bureau has no constitutional reason to train its video cameras on demonstrators — or to broadcast those images publicly on the internet, where federal agents and others can analyze them.”

City Attorney Tracy Reeve said she couldn’t comment on the pending litigation.

Federal officers who have been stationed in an incident command center in the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse have been monitoring live stream footage shared on social media of the demonstrations, and Portland police and federal officers have made arrests after reviewing video footage to identify people accused of committing violence or property damage.

The ACLU of Oregon filed its lawsuit Wednesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, becoming the latest legal action stemming from the nightly demonstrations and officers’ use of force.

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