Some protesters who have been arrested in Portland, Oregon, where protests against police brutality have been growing for more than two months, are now obligated to agree to a conditional release. The condition? They can’t attend any more protests.
Many legal experts have been calling the condition a violation of an individual’s First Amendment constitutional right to free assembly. Orders for the release of those arrested, often on misdemeanor charges, read: “Defendant may not attend any other protests, rallies, assemblies or public gathering in the state of Oregon,” according to a ProPublica report.
The news organization also reported that at least 12 people arrested had been subjected to the stipulation and some described feeling forced to agree to get out of jail.
“Those terms were given to me after being in a holding cell after 14 hours,” Bailey Dreibelbis, who was charged July 24 with failing to obey a lawful order, told ProPublica. “It was pretty cut-and-dried, just, ‘These are your conditions for [getting out] of here.’”
Dreibelbis added that it didn’t seem like there was another option other than to agree.
Federal law enforcement announced they had arrested 74 people during protests for actions they allegedly carried out against federal police and facilities in Portland, according to the Justice Department.
Court documents reviewed by ProPublica show that over a third of the protesters are charged with “failing to obey a lawful order,” which is only a federal misdemeanor because it happened on federal property outside the federal courthouse where the protests have largely taken place.
The arrests follow several alleged violent encounters between protesters and police. Many were angered by the presence of federal law enforcement in the city, saying the federal officers has been unnecessarily violent with protesters, pepper spraying them, shooting pepper pellets at them and using tear gas.
Somil Trivedi, a staff attorney at the ACLU, told ProPublica that “release conditions should be related to public safety or flight” and that what they are doing is "neither.”
He added that the condition is “sort of hilariously unconstitutional.”
On Thursday, it was announced that all Customs and Border Protection and ICE officers would be removed from downtown Portland. State and local police will take their place.
"They have acted as an occupying force & brought violence. Starting tomorrow, all Customs and Border Protection & ICE officers will leave downtown Portland," Oregon Gov. Kate Brown wrote on Twitter. "Let's center the Black Lives Matter movement's demands for racial justice and police accountability. It's time for bold action to reform police practices.”