ACLU Sues Portland Police Over Livestreaming Protests

The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a legal challenge to the Portland Police Bureau for its “unlawful surveillance” of protestors.

According to the lawsuit filed on Wednesday, the Portland Police Bureau has been filming and livestreaming videos of protests in the city, the footage viewable on various online platforms including YouTube. The videos, which have been linked on the Bureau’s Twitter account three times this month, often zoom in on individual protestors’ faces, which the ACLU claims makes the subjects vulnerable to surveillance technology.

The ACLU contends in the suit that this practice violates state law prohibiting police from collecting or maintaining information on the political and social views and associations of members of the public who are not suspected of criminal activity.

Jann Carson, interim executive director of the ACLU in Oregon, commented: “Unlawful police surveillance threatens our First Amendment rights. The Portland Police Bureau has no constitutional reason to train its video cameras on demonstrators — or to broadcast those images publicly on the internet, where federal agents and others can analyze them.

The Bureau has claimed that the purpose of the videos is to encourage “situational awareness” and “so the community could understand what was occurring at the protest.”

City Attorney Tracy Reeve said she could not comment on the suit.

Portland has been in the public eye in recent weeks as the unprecedented deployment of federal agents to counter largely peaceful protests has sparked violence and fears of unlawful activity. Though federal agents are now being moved elsewhere, protests have not diminished.

The ACLU also took legal action earlier this month to block federal agents in Portland from arresting and using force against journalists and legal observers.

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