Jul 24, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Judge temporarily bars U.S. agents from arresting journalists, legal observers in Portland

Federal officers arresting a protester for crossing a fence line around a federal courthouse.
Federal officers arresting a protester for crossing a fence line around a federal courthouse on July23. Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon issued a temporary restraining order on Thursday blocking federal agents in Portland, Oregon, from arresting or using physical force against journalists and legal observers amid ongoing protests unless a crime has been committed.

Why it matters: The order restricts law enforcement officers from the departments of Homeland Security and of Justice operating in Portland, who have been accused of unlawfully arresting protesters.

The restriction will be in effect for 14 days. Federal officers can arrest journalists or legal observers if there is probable cause they have committed a crime.

  • The ruling also allows journalists and legal observers to stay in public spaces even if federal agents issue a dispersal order.
  • Federal officers are prevented from seizing journalists' press passes and equipment unless they are being lawfully arrested.

The big picture: The American Civil Liberties Union is representing journalists and observers who said they were shot with less-lethal munitions by federal officers.

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