To activist Gregory McKelvey, a Portland police officer tried to break Kathryn Stevens' neck. To the the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), it was just a "mandibular angle pressure point for pain compliance" they used when arresting her (see page 33 of the embedded document).
And now, after more video of Stevens' November 21 arrest was posted on social media yesterday, the city auditor's Independent Police Review will be investigating, Mayor Charlie Hales announced this afternoon.
Here is some never before seen footage of police trying to break my partners neck in front of me. They didn't think anyone could see but me. Luckily, I happened to have a documentary crew with me that day who got it all. This is just the tip of the ice berg. We have so much more. This is not okay! They beat her up bad and then left her sitting in jail alone as she was in and out of consciousness and we had to rush her to the emergency room as soon as we got out. They could have killed her and frankly I think they tried to kill her and if she wasn't as strong as she is she might be dead. Anyways, more videos to come.
McKelvey, Stevens, and Micah Rhodes—leaders of Portland's Resistance—were all controversially arrested during last Monday's anti-Donald Trump march and protest through Portland streets. McKelvey was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge, and both Rhodes and Stevens were arrested on disorderly conduct and interfering with a police officer charges. The district attorney's office did not prosecute the three on those charges but, court records show, the three were each cited today, the day after the McKelvey uploaded the video, on a failure to obey a police officer charge for the November 21 incident.
The three participated in a protest march organized by Portland students, beginning at Holladay Park and ending at City Hall. The group blocked traffic on the Burnside Bridge for a little bit.
"During the march, police officers observed McKelvey and Rhodes actively encouraging and directing student protesters to counter lawful police orders which were being broadcast over a loudspeaker by police," a PPB release said.
The trio's arrest drew immediate ire from the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. The group's legal director, Mat dos Santos, wrote an open letter to Hales and Police Chief Mike Marshman the day later suggesting the city may have violated the constitution.
"An arrest made in retaliation for a person’s exercise of protected speech violates the First Amendment," dos Santos wrote. "While we continue to evaluate the facts, we caution PPB that it is a violation of the rights of the protesters arrested if police actions are motivated by a desire to chill speech and law enforcement actions would 'chill or silence a person of ordinary firmness from future First Amendment activities.'"
In response to public outcry, the PPB also released 65 pages of its records of their arrests in a press release and on Twitter and Facebook (you can read it below; unlike the PPB, we've redacted the activists' addresses and phone numbers). The records indicate Rhodes was arrested because he supposedly faked-tied his shoes in the back of the pack to temporarily block trailing police from following.
"They are in full panic mode," McKelvey tells the Mercury.
Here's what Hales, who activists believe ordered their arrests, has to say about the video posted yesterday:
Portland respects the First Amendment and we will always uphold the right to peacefully assemble and protest.
There have been many peaceful demonstrations over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, there have also been safety concerns such as walking onto freeways and blocking the MAX light-rail lines. Reports from November 21 show that police were responding to legitimate concerns about the safety of middle and high school students being directed to block traffic and disregard police instructions. As Police Commissioner, my number one priority is public safety for everyone in our city.
Late yesterday, I was made aware of new video footage showing a Portland Police officer arresting a protester. I take very seriously police use of force tactics in any situation. Therefore, I have asked the Independent Police Review to open an investigation regarding the use of force and police response to the November 21 protest. The independent review process is thorough, accurate and responsive, and if there are findings of wrongdoing, there will be proper discipline.