OHSU student arrested handing medical supplies to protesters

2020 Protests

Michael Martinez worked the tent with other OHSU grad students

PORTLAND, Ore (KOIN) — An OHSU grad student is among those calling on police to change their tactics after he was arrested during a protest last Saturday night.

Michael Martinez was with a group of students handing out medical supplies and food to people near the Justice Center in downtown Portland. With the help of faculty, they set up a booth to pass out the supplies after seeing police use rubber bullets and tear gas on protesters.

OHSU grad student Michael Martinez spoke with KOIN 6 News about his recent arrest during Portland protests, June 18, 2020. (KOIN)

He said they first set up the tent around June 8. Around 10:30 p.m. on June 13, police declared an “unlawful assembly,” and about 5 minutes later they tried to hand out as much as they could before packing up.

Around 10:46 p.m., he said, police raided the park. When it looked as if officers were going to approach their booth, he pulled out his phone and began to take video. KOIN 6 News asked to see the video, but his attorney advise him not to share it.

Here is his account of what happened:

“We then tried to communicate that we’re packing up and we’re trying to leave. They essentially said leave it and it will be here for you when you get back. Leave now or you will be arrested. I was standing in front of the tent closest to the officers as they approached. I looked over my shoulder to make sure that my fellow volunteers were retreating. An officer came up to me specifically and said you need to go. I began to retreat backwards, to walk backwards, and then another officer pointed at me and said arrest that guy and then I was put under arrest.”

The supplies, he said, weren’t there when the other volunteers got back. Martinez said they got their supplies back the next day but not their tent. He told KOIN 6 News a faculty member who picked up the items said she found them in a pile of garbage in front of the Justice Center.

“All of this happened very fast, within a matter of 20 seconds even, so I don’t think they took the time to take in the situation to be honest.”

He told KOIN 6 News he does not support violence from anyone but thinks the police response “is unwarranted.”

Martinez said he was calm when he was arrested “just because there was no decision that I had to make. All I had to do was, it was very transactional, the arrest, and it was professional. So all I had to do was take the next step and the next one.”

That next step now includes an arraignment and a defense attorney.

“I am especially privileged and well equipped to defend myself of these charges and just got to take it one step at a time.”

In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Dr. George Mejicano, the senior associate dean for education at the OHSU School of Medicine said:

“OHSU firmly stands with communities calling for an end to the trauma and anguish people of color are suffering as a result of systemic racism. We recognize the important role our students, faculty, residents and staff play as members of the broader community and support their right to be involved in lawful civic and community activities.

“We are a community of healers and fully support our members providing medical aid to the community and engaging in nonviolent demonstrations. One of our students, Michael Martinez, recently was arrested while volunteering at a food and medical supply tent sponsored by OHSU.

“Although we cannot comment on the specifics of the case, he and his attorney are working to resolve this matter in a just manner. We applaud and support Michael’s effort to serve our community during these tumultuous times.”

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