“At least 50 journalists in the US have been arrested during Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the US, while dozens of others have also been injured by rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas.
The US Press Freedom Tracker has collected nearly 500 incidents from 382 reports, from the unrest in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd‘s killing by police in late May, to demonstrations in more than 70 cities across 35 states since.
At least 46 journalists were arrested between the end of May and the beginning of June, according to data collected by the organisation. Dozens of others reported injuries from law enforcement, firing “less lethal” projectiles, tear gas canisters and other weapons into crowds or directly at reporters during demonstrations, even when they had identified themselves and shown credentials, the organisation reports.
Two reporters have suffered permanent eye injuries.”
“Arson, vandalism, and other acts of rioting have accompanied many of the anti-police-brutality protests around the country. But since this violence is often adjacent to protected First Amendment activities, law enforcement’s response needs to be careful, targeted, and proportionate. We should try to stop the violence and vandalism, but peaceful protesters shouldn’t be unjustly punished or otherwise dissuaded from exercising their rights to free speech and assembly.
By encouraging prosecutors to be as punitive as possible, Barr appears to be taking the exact opposite approach. His suggestion that they dust off sedition laws should alarm all civil liberties advocates.”
“A new report from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project, in collaboration with Princeton University’s Bridging Divides Initiative, identified 7,750 Black Lives Matter protests from May 26 through August 22 at 2,400 locations across the US. An examination of these events found that 93 percent of them remained peaceful while protests at about 220 locations turned “violent” — defined as the destruction of property, and including clashes between protesters and police and counterprotesters. The report also found that in these places the violence was restricted to specific blocks of the city and not widespread.”
““When a person is accosted by surprise, they have a natural reaction. Someone will run, they’ll fight, they’ll yank their arms away from someone who’s trying to pull them into a car,” said Kaishian. “These acts were often charged as resisting arrest or obstructions of governmental administration. So in addition to the charge for the warrant or the I-Card that was issued, even if they caught the wrong person, the person that they grabbed would be subjected to additional charges simply for responding to that terrifying situation.””
“The ACLU’s complaint, filed on behalf of the Portland Mercury, eight journalists, and two observers working with the ACLU, alleges that federal agents stationed at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse have joined local police in violating those principles. On July 12, for instance, federal officers shot photographer Mathieu Lewis-Rolland 10 times with “impact munitions” that left “severe lacerations, welts, and bruises all over his upper body.” According to the Geneva Guidelines on Less-Lethal Weapons and Related Equipment in Law Enforcement, such projectiles “should generally only be used in direct fire against the lower body of a violent individual when a substantial risk exists of immediate serious injury to either a law enforcement official or a member of the public.”
The complaint alleges many similar abuses by Portland police, including the gratuitous use of tear gas and rubber bullets, unprovoked beatings, unlawful arrests, and other interference with activities protected by the First Amendment. The ACLU says the plaintiffs who have suffered such abuse were clearly identified as journalists or legal observers.
The lawsuit also complains that Portland police have routinely violated Simon’s June 9 order barring them from using tear gas at the protests except when “the lives or safety of the public or the police are at risk.” Simon said tear gas should not be used simply “to disperse crowds where there is no or little risk of injury.” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who is also the police commissioner, got a taste of his own medicine on Wednesday night, when he was gassed by federal officers while vainly trying to show protesters that he was united with them in opposing the Trump administration’s response to the demonstrations.
The protests in Portland have been happening every day since May 28, three days after a Minneapolis police officer suffocated George Floyd. The federal officers, who according to an internal memo have not been trained in controlling riots or mass demonstrations, were deployed by the Trump administration this month, ostensibly to protect the courthouse and other federal property. But as Nancy Rommelman notes, the federal presence seems to have inflamed the situation, provoking the vandalism and assaults on the courthouse that the administration now cites to justify its involvement.”
“Officials from US Border Patrol and other federal agencies, most of whom are not well-trained for handling mass demonstrations, have shot protesters in the head with “less lethal” munitions, launched tear gas, and arrested citizens far from federal property after stalking them in unmarked vehicles.
The problem for Trump, though, is that the seductive logic of quelling demonstrations using immense force has proven faulty. More of Portland’s residents are on the streets now than before federal agents arrived, and violent incidents have ticked upward, not downward. Despite those results, the Trump administration shows no signs of changing course in Portland, and may even export the strategy to other major American cities like Chicago.”
“That’s right. What we need to do in handling these protests, then, is really understand not only how crowds function but also how crowds react to what the police do. What we have right now is law enforcement agencies under the Department of Homeland Security in Portland just ignoring everything we know about how to do protest policing right.”
“Portland is a fascinating case study because the intensity of the protests and the numbers out on the streets had decreased pretty substantially before federal law enforcement showed up. Object throwing, fire setting, graffiti — all that increased dramatically after federal authorities arrived. So I don’t think anybody can make the argument that the federal authorities came to town and made things better.”
“these events are best handled by local authorities, not federal ones. The reason why is actually quite simple: If local police are playing the game correctly, they should already have a relationship with the leaders of the protest movement as well as other social justice groups.
The hope is that having those kinds of relationships prevents the situation from spiraling in the first place. But if it does start to go wrong, authorities can leverage those preexisting relationships to simmer things down pretty quickly.”
“No credible authority figure on policing protests is suggesting police shouldn’t arrest people who are engaged in violence or property damage. In fact, it’s the opposite: When people are engaged in that type of behavior, they need to be arrested and preferably now, not later.”
“The most potent form of communication the police can engage in, then, is to let protesters know they will facilitate a protester’s right to be there and behave peacefully and lawfully. However, the message should get across that those among the crowd who choose to engage in violence and property damage will be arrested.
That just needs to be a routine and repeated message. And if an arrest is made, authorities need to tell the crowd why they detained someone, because otherwise misinformation will spread.”
“Demonstrations usually have moderate protesters in them, people who are generally peaceful, law-abiding, and aren’t prone to engaging in violence or property damage. Of course, there are also typically some anarchists or people ready to cause trouble. The moderates and troublemakers may not agree on tactics, but they at least share a cause.
If law enforcement attacks the group as a whole for the actions of a few troublemakers, the moderates can start to embrace — or at least understand or appreciate — the strategies of those who are more radical. At that point, the crowd psychology shifts.
This is a key point, and where my recommended approach really comes into play: Law enforcement should want to avoid that shift. You want the moderates to stay moderate. You don’t want the fleeting social identities of the moderates to start to drift toward the social identities of the radicals.
The way I put this for police officers to understand is: “You need to win hearts and minds.” You’re not going to succeed with the radicals who are engaging in property damage, of course, but you just might win over the majority of the crowd.”
“A National Guard officer will testify Tuesday at a congressional hearing that the June 1 clearing of protesters outside the White House was “an unnecessary escalation of the use of force” and “deeply disturbing to me, and to fellow National Guardsmen.”
“From my observation, those demonstrators—our fellow American citizens—were engaged in the peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights,” Adam DeMarco, a major in the D.C. National Guard, will tell the House Natural Resources Committee, according to his prepared remarks. “Yet they were subjected to an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force.”
DeMarco’s testimony directly contradicts several of the Trump administration’s shifting explanations for what happened on June 1, when law enforcement violently dispersed a crowd of protesters in Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House. After police cleared the crowds, President Donald Trump conducted a photo shoot of himself holding a Bible outside St. John’s Church.”
“DeMarco testifies that around 6 p.m., Attorney General William Barr and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived.
“As the senior National Guard officer on the scene at the time, I gave General Milley a quick briefing on our mission and the current situation,” DeMarco writes. “General Milley told me to ensure that National Guard personnel remained calm, adding that we were there to respect the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights.” (Milley has since apologized for appearing in Lafayette Square. “I should not have been there,” he said. “My presence in that moment, and in that environment, created the perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”)
At around 6:20 p.m., DeMarco continues, verbal warnings were given to the crowd to leave. But from where he was standing, about 20 yards away from the line of protesters, the warnings “were barely audible and I saw no indication that the demonstrators were cognizant of the warnings to disperse.”
Law enforcement rushed the crowd at around 6:30 p.m. Videos showed law enforcement assaulting an Australian TV crew. Media and other observers also reported being tear gassed.
The Trump administration says that protesters were throwing items at law enforcement, which DeMarco testifies he did not see. Park Police also emphatically denied they fired tear gas, claiming that officers instead fired smoke canisters and pepper balls, the latter of which are also a chemical irritant. But DeMarco says that tear gas was indeed used.”
“Twenty-six-year-old Donavan LaBella was holding a speaker above his head across from the federal courthouse in downtown Portland when one of a group of camouflage-clad federal agents threw some sort of smoking, flashing canister at him. LaBella rolled the canister away from this feet, into an empty portion of the street, then held up the speaker again. Suddenly there was a loud bang, then some sort of impact munition (a.k.a. “firearm-delivered projectiles,” such as rubber bullets or bean bags) flying through the air. Then LaBella falls to the ground. Other protesters come to his aid and drag him out of the street.
Video captured the whole horrifying incident.
“An American has been shot and sent to the hospital for apparently exercising his right of free speech,” marveled Steven Strauss, a visiting professor at Princeton.
Donavan’s mom, Desiree LaBella, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that her son had sustained skull and facial fractures and had to have facial reconstruction surgery. As of Sunday morning, he was responding to doctors and able to move his arms and legs.”
“NPR notes that “Wolf claimed there had been violence against officers in Portland. DHS later clarified Wolf was referring to fireworks shot toward officers as well as protesters pointing lasers at federal police. Several protesters in Portland were charged with assault on a federal officer because of those actions.””