The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) violated state law in 2020 when it filmed protest activity and shared livestreamed footage internally and over social media channels, a Multnomah County judge ruled Monday.
Multnomah County Judge Thomas Ryan's ruling sides with ACLU of Oregon, who sued PPB on July 29, 2020, on behalf of protesters who had been filmed by officers during June protests. The ACLU argued that, by livestreaming protests from PPB devices, PPB was "collecting information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities of people who are not suspected of criminal activity," which violates Oregon law. Ryan agreed, and went further to determine that, by doing so, PPB had also breached an 1988 agreement with the ACLU prohibiting the PPB from taking photographs of protesters at demonstrations.
"Standing up to injustice is important to me; having my own government deliberately put me at risk for broadcasting my location and political stance... is unbelievable," said Portlander Marie Tyvoll, the lead protester named in the lawsuit, in a press statement. "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.”
This practice has been temporarily prohibited in Portland since late last summer. A day after filing this lawsuit in 2020, the ACLU was granted a temporary restraining order from the court, which prohibited PPB from continuing to livestream nightly protests over PPB's social media channels. Ryan's ruling essentially makes that injunction permanent.
However, Ryan hasn't yet prohibited PPB from livestreaming protesters and sharing the videos internally. He is waiting for the city to appeal that argument before casting an opinion. Kelly Simon, ACLU of Oregon legal director, said she was pleased that Ryan was "willing to apply Oregon law in a common sense way."
"This should put all Oregon law enforcement agencies on notice that police have no business filming, photographing, or otherwise collecting information on protesters," Simon said Tuesday. "Protest is fundamental to democracy. Protest is not a crime. Period.”