Lawsuit: Feds targeted legal observer as he was leaving protest


Federal police in the streets of downtown Portland during the 62nd night of protests, July 30, 2020. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new lawsuit alleges federal agents targeted and shot a volunteer legal observer as he was leaving a protest in Portland last July.

Twenty-six-year-old Nathan Haberman-Ducey, a student at Lewis & Clark Law School and a volunteer legal observer with the National Lawyers Guild, was alone and walking his bike away from the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse on July 19, 2020, when he was hit with impact munitions by unidentified federal agents, according to a lawsuit that was filed in Oregon’s U.S. District Court on Monday.

Haberman-Ducey, who is being represented by the group Portland Lawyers for Black Lives, said he was wearing a neon-green NLG-issued hat when he was injured by the impact munitions, which hit his right hand and broke his wrist bone, “effectively ending his ability to legal observe at protests, and violating his constitutional rights,” the complaint stated.

The federal agencies named in the lawsuit are Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Protective Service and U.S. Marshals Service, which were involved in “Operation Diligent Valor,” the name of the Trump administration’s federal law enforcement operation to protect “monuments, memorials and statutes” in response to massive protests following the murder of George Floyd in late May 2020. Multiple lawsuits were filed in reaction to Operation Diligent Valor.

“I’m honestly still blown away with how far the Feds and state were willing to take it. It was not uncommon to see a couple people touch a fence and for thousands of people to be gassed by the police or Federal agents in return,” Haberman-Ducey said in a statement. “The terrifying and eruptive focus on violence and punishment to display their power was truly shocking. And that says a lot about my privilege. I understand this is what communities of color have experienced as everyday reality.”

The incident was caught in several photographs by another legal observer, Sage Mist, according to Haberman-Ducey’s attorneys.

“He was so clearly the only one around and there was this quiet moment of pause until they were suddenly pointing their scopes at him,” Mist said in a statement.

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