Editor’s note: Some of the images in this story may be too graphic for some readers.
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Portland man was hit with a non-lethal munition round by police Tuesday evening while doing what he said was peaceful protesting.
Jonathan Langvin, 28, recorded the incident and posted it to Instagram. Langvin also sent KOIN 6 News an unedited version of the video. He said he isn’t sure what kind of non-lethal round it was that hit him, but seemed to him to either be a beanbag round or a foam round.
Langvin said he was protesting against police brutality in solidarity with similar such protests across the country after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed handcuffed black man who died while a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck.
“I’m glad that I got shot with a beanbag gun and not someone who would hurt more,” Langvin told KOIN 6 News. “I’m a pretty big guy and I’ve played a lot of sports, I’m used to getting hit with things.”
Langvin says he was injured around 9:40 p.m. Tuesday after he walked up to the fenced-off area near the Multnomah County Justice Center to see what caused a loud bang he heard.
This followed after Langvin also left an area where tear gas was being used by police, even during when protesters were running away. In addition, he said he saw National Guards members that night.
In the video, many other protesters were also approaching the fence from what appeared to be near the corner of SW Third Avenue and Salmon Street.
As the protesters chanted “hands up don’t shoot,” an announcement from Portland Police Bureau over loudspeaker warned people to not interfere with the fencing and that anyone tampering with the fencing or failed to obey officer instructions would be “subject to uses of force” including “riot control agents.” “Stay back,” was the warning heard over a loudspeaker.
In the video, protesters could be heard urging the crowd to “stay peaceful” and continued chanting “hands up, don’t shoot” while slowly moving toward the fence, which on the other side had about a dozen police officers. Most of the protesters maintained a distance of 10-15 feet, while a handful went up close to the fence, Langvin said.
At about a minute and 24 seconds into the unedited video, a “pop” sound can be heard, at which point Langvin said none of the protesters were tampering with the fence. Langvin said he saw that the pop sound was from a non-lethal munition round being fired toward the crowd.
“Then I went right up towards the fence, I was probably a foot or two away, trying to get the officer’s badge number,” Langvin said.
As he was asking for the officer’s badge number, and seeing no identifying markers on the officer, Langvin said another officer then shot a beanbag round “a few feet away from me” in his thigh. The second “pop” can be heard around the one minute, 40 second mark of the unedited video.
The alleged non-lethal munition round was shot when both of Langvid’s hands were up, holding a cellphone and a water bottle in each hand, he said. It left a softball-sized bruise and a minor skin abrasion on Langvin’s leg.
Langvin said it was an instance of “unprovoked violence” from police. He said he wants the officers involved to be fired and is considering his next steps in pressing charges or filing a lawsuit. He filed a complaint to the American Civil Liberties Union.
KOIN 6 News reached out to ACLU of Oregon to comment specifically on the incident with Langvin, but they did not respond in time for publication. However, ACLU of Oregon recently praised City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty’s comments about asking Portland police to cease the use of tear gas in a recent tweet, among other calls of reform.
Portland City Commissioners Hardesty and Chloe Eudaly called on police to cease tactics such as the use of tear gas, flashbang devices and other “violence” against peaceful protesters.
In a five-tweet thread, Hardesty said there is “a lot of work to do to change the culture and system of policing. One part of that is demilitarizing the police.”
Eudaly called the use of tear gas “sadistic,” especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, a contagious respiratory illness.
When asked about polices’ tactics during Tuesday night protests, Portland Police Chief Jami Resch said in a Wednesday morning press conference that “Every use of force by Portland Police Bureau is documented and investigated.”
“If any actions are found to be out of policy, those actions will be addressed. I will not let the actions of a few individuals intent on causing violence turn this focus on the Portland Police Bureau,” Resch said.
She added that the clashes were from a group of individuals who broke away from the peaceful protest and marched blocks specifically to encounter police members at barricades.
“The PPB did not instigate the violence that began in our city last night,” Resch said.
KOIN 6 News reached out to PPB for comment about this specific incident, but they did not give comment in time for publication.
As for Langvin, Tuesday was his first attendance of the recent string of protests. He said he is motivated by the death of George Floyd and “the rampant abuse of black men in this country by the police,” everyday racism, and to advocate for de-funding police in general, save for a small police force to deal with serious crimes.
“I want change so I’m going back downtown tonight and continue to be peaceful and film police brutality,” Langvin said.
KOIN 6 News reported that the protests Tuesday started in peaceful fashion on both sides of the Willamette River from early afternoon until early evening.
Langvin explained that he originally joined the large group of protesters who convened at Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland, then crossed the Burnside Bridge later in the evening. He witnessed a truck that drove through the crowd and barely missed hitting several protesters.
The two protest groups congregated to over 1,000 people in Pioneer Courthouse Square and demonstrated peacefully until around 9 pm.
After that, Portland police said “criminal activity” had occurred near Southwest Fourth and Taylor, in which officers responded with flashbangs and tear gas. Then smaller clashes occurred and police systematically moved from street to street, emptying tear gas canisters and using flashbangs to disperse those who remained downtown.
Tuesday was the fifth-straight night of protests in Portland, which ultimately ended with about a dozen arrests. Friday, May 29, marked the first night of the massive consecutive protests, which unraveled into violence as businesses and the Justice Center’s windows were smashed and vandalized, looting and fires occurred, and police declared a riot.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include more details and to clarify Jonathan Langvin was not sure about what type of non-lethal munition round hit him.
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