The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a stay Thursday against a lower court injunction that prevented federal law enforcement from arresting journalists during riots in Portland — which rioters abused by posing as “press.”
A July order by Judge U.S. Judge Michael H. Simon — a Barack Obama appointee — prevented federal law enforcement from dispersing journalists and “legal observers” during protests. The U.S. Department of Justice appealed the injunction.
Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli told the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month that rioters had abused the injunction by wearing signs saying “press” — and then launching violent attacks on federal officers.
In a district court filing, the Department of Justice provided several explicit examples:
For example, a protester carrying a shield that identified him as press was taken into custody for impeding federal officers who were attempting to control the crowd, and was found to be in possession of a gun. Another individual who self-identified as a reporter unlawfully entered federal property and, after refusing to leave, resisted arrest. A third individual wearing indicia of press membership and self-reporting as press, was arrested for failing to comply with lawful direction of a federal officer, and discovered to be carrying commercial grade fireworks, which, throughout the protests, have been used as a tactic to harass federal officers, and which are illegal in Oregon. On July 28, 2020, an officer observed an individual wearing a helmet bearing the word “PRESS” and using a power tool to attempt to breach the fence around the Courthouse. In the early morning on July 29, 2020, an individual wearing “press” identification on his helmet breached the security barrier around the courthouse by jumping over the perimeter fence. Most recently, on the night of July 29, 2020, an individual wearing “press” identification assisted another protester to breach the perimeter fence.
The local Portland Police Bureau likewise reported rioters wearing “press” insignia were throwing rocks at police officers.
Other — legitimate — journalists confirmed those reports.