AP featured image
Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters hold their phones aloft on Monday, July 20, 2020, in Portland, Ore. Federal officers’ actions at protests in Oregon’s largest city, hailed by President Donald Trump but done without local consent, are raising the prospect of a constitutional crisis — one that could escalate as weeks of demonstrations find renewed focus in clashes with camouflaged, unidentified agents outside Portland’s U.S. courthouse. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

 

Last week I covered a restraining order issued by federal judge Michael Simon directing the federal law enforcement agents defending the Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland to not purposely target members of the press or attorney observers from organizations like the ACLU when using crowd control measures such as tear gas, pepper spray, and non-lethal munitions in dealing with rioters.

The Order stated:

To facilitate the Federal Defendants’ identification of Journalists protected under this Order, the following shall be considered indicia of being a Journalist: visual identification as a member of the press, such as by carrying a professional or authorized press pass or wearing a professional or authorized press badge or other official press credentials or distinctive clothing that identifies the wearer as a member of the press. These indicia are not exclusive, and a person need not exhibit every indicium to be considered a Journalist under this Order. The Federal Defendants shall not be liable for unintentional violations of this Order in the case of an individual who does not carry or wear a press pass, badge, or other official press credential or distinctive clothing that identifies the wearer as a member of the press.

The Federal Defendants are not precluded by the Order from issuing otherwise lawful crowd-dispersal orders for a variety of lawful reasons. The Federal Defendants shall not be liable for violating this injunction if a Journalist or Legal Observer is incidentally exposed to crowd-control devices after remaining in the area where such devices were deployed after the issuance of an otherwise lawful dispersal order.

Not surprisingly, videos of rioting at the Portland courthouse since the issuance of the order are more and more often capturing members of the “press” who are dressed suspiciously similar to Antifa and BLM rioters — but now they have their “indicia of being a journalist” with them.   Some have “PRESS” emblzoned on their shirts, and others are waving around notebooks and “badges” which say “Press” on them.  Some of the more enterprising rioters are wearing “GoPro” cameras on their helmets and claiming they are videographers capturing images of protesters — sometimes themselves as they hurl objects over the fence at the courthouse and/or federal law enforcement agent.

The “real” press is responsible for this idiocy.  They “demand” to be given specialized access and treatment in a largely uncontrolled environment — all in the name of “constitutional” rights that don’t exist anywhere in the Constitution.  The real press — in an urban “warfare” zone — mixed in with the agitators and rioters, demand that law enforcement agents take notice of their presence and then account for them when dealing with a largely chaotic scene.  Their presence complicates decision-making and places everyone involved at greater risk.

Cover it if they want from the rioters perspective — but they should be properly outfitted and take their chances if that is their choice.