Judge denies restraining order sought by protest medics

2020 Protests

Volunteer street medics sought a federal restraining order against Portland police and federal officers

A medic sign is held up, visible through the cloud of tear gas outside the federal courthouse. July 18, 2020 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A federal judge has denied a temporary restraining order request that would have barred Portland police and federal officials from arresting or targeting volunteer street medics during protests.

The request, filed by four so-called “protest medics,” asked that officers be prevented from not only arresting a street medic but from requiring them to disperse with demonstrators. It also sought to prevent officers from seizing medical equipment from a medic and from ordering them to stop treating a person.

Volunteer street medics have carried out tasks such as washing pepper spray from protesters’ eyes, dressing wounds and getting wounded people to safety.

U.S. District Judge Karin Immergut denied the TRO request, arguing “the line between protester and protest medic is not sufficiently clear such that granting them the relief they request would not sow confusion or create additional risks.”

Immergut added that many protest medics “deliberately stand in the spaces between law enforcement and the protesters, or even enmesh themselves with other protesters.”

The ruling concluded with the following:

“In so ruling, this Court does not seek to diminish or devalue the efforts of the protest medics in keeping others safe, nor does this Court question the protest medics right to continue engaging in the protests and offering medical support to protestors. Like ordinary protesters, however, the protest medics must abide by lawful police orders.”

Attorney Rian Peck of Perkins Coie LLP, counsel for the ACLU of Oregon, responded to the denial with the following:

“Deliberately attacking a medic is usually considered a war crime. Our clients have been shot, arrested, pepper sprayed, maced, tackled, and beaten while they were clearly marked as volunteer medics. Just like our clients continue to fight in support of Black lives, this is just the beginning of our fight for protest medics in Portland.”

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