A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order Thursday night against federal agents from arresting or using force against legal observers and journalists in Portland, Oregon, during ongoing violence and protests there.
District Judge Michael Simon, an Obama appointee, granted the restraining order in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. The order adds the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Marshals Service to an existing injunction that bars Portland police from arresting journalists and legal observers.
“This order is a victory for the rule of law,” said Jann Carson, interim executive director of the ACLU of Oregon. “Federal agents from Trump’s Departments of Homeland Security and Justice are terrorizing the community, threatening lives, and relentlessly attacking journalists and legal observers documenting protests. These are the actions of a tyrant, and they have no place anywhere in America.”
The judge’s ruling prohibits federal officers from seizing photo/video equipment from journalists or legal observers, and prevents the federal officers from ordering photojournalists to stop taking photos or video.
The feds had argued there was a separate area where journalists could report from, but the judge rejected that notion.
“This argument is without merit. Federal agents are using tear gas, which decreases visibility, and the protests are at night. Reporting from a few blocks away is not a viable alternative location,” the judge wrote.
The restraining order expires after two weeks.
One of the photojournalists the ACLU represented was shot 10 times in the back with rubber bullets. Another journalist was attacked with tear gas.
Chad Wolf, acting secretary of Homeland Security, said the federal agents will continue to protect federal facilities and journalists should stay away from violent criminals as they cover the riots in Portland.
“We are certainly abiding by the court order,” Mr. Wolf told Fox News on Friday morning after the restraining order was issued the night before. “This is a very violent situation.”
Violence has erupted in Portland with clashes between protesters and law enforcement for several weeks during Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality.
Mr. Wolf said there are about 1,000 to 2,000 rioters in the city.
• Alex Swoyer contributed to this report.