Three animal rights activists who were arrested by the Beaverton Police Department in 2015 are suing the city and four cops in federal court, alleging civil rights violations. They were arrested for criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, and harassment for writing chalk messages on a residential street, the suit says.
The three people—Portland residents Justin Kay and Courtney Krisanda of Portland, and Washington resident Amanda Schemkes—were protesting near Skanksa USA executive David Schmidt's Beaverton home on the night of July 22, 2015. Skanska had recently won a $90 million contract with the University of Washington to build the school's controversial animal research lab. Schmidt, the construction company's co-chief operating officer, signed the contract for the company to build the school's "Animal Research and Care Facility," the suit says.
The animal activist trio, the suit says, wrote in the following messages on the sidewalk around midnight in washable pink chalk: "David Schmidt kills animals," "No rest for animal abusers," "Skanska suck," "David profits from murder," "Schmidty = Animal killer," "David Schmidt, It's your fault," "Welcome to the storm week of action Skanska," "Storm Skanska," "David Schmidt is a killer," and "David Schmidt builds death labs!"
Then the BPB showed up and arrested them. The lawsuit, filed by Portland lawyer Juan C. Chavez, says Beaverton police essentially created false pretenses to arrest and overbook the activists, violating their First Amendment (free speech) and Fourth Amendment (search and seizure) rights. The Washington County District Attorney's Office declined to prosecute them when the BPD referred the case to them.
According to the police report, obtained by the Mercury, a BPD officer wrote that "These words written in front of David Schmidt's house and along his neighborhood street are publicly insulting words intended and likely to provoke a violent response."
The suit claims a BPD cop arrested them for harassment for the chalk messages using an unconstitutionally broad interpretation of the law, and that the cop said was because "it's not like these are drawings of flowers." It also claims the cops essentially got together to lie in their reports that neighbors were "nervous" and "fearful."
It claims the BPB said it cost "approximately $500" to clean up the chalk writings—therefore meeting the $500 threshold for a criminal mischief charge—despite providing no receipts for the "Skanksa USA water truck" it says they used in the cleanup. The suit claims that none of them conducted themselves in a way that could justify a second degree disorderly conduct charge they were booked on.
Protests in Schmidt's neighborhood have been a thing in the past couple years (here's a Google search for stories on them).
Last year, Beaverton City Council approved two ordinances "intended to curtail protests directed at individual households, a phenominon the city experienced in one neighborhood last year," the Oregonian wrote in at the time:
The city council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a picketing ordinance and sweeping revisions to its noise ordinance, both in response to repeated protests last year at the home of David Schmidt, an executive with Skanska USA.
The construction company is building an animal research lab at the University of Washington in Seattle and the group No New Animal Lab had protested at the homes of Schmidt as well as Tim Baugus, a Skanska executive who lives in Sherwood. Protests also have been staged at the homes of other Skanska executives nationwide and at the homes of UW executives as well as at the construction site.
The lawsuit claims the activists were harassed by BPD cops after their arrests. Named in the federal civil rights lawsuit are the City of Beaverton, Sgt. Thomas Crino, Officer James Parker, Officer Michel Wilson, and Officer Derek Vuylsteke.
Read the lawsuit below: