Two independent journalists who filed an excessive force lawsuit against the Portland police will receive a $55,000 settlement from the city, the Associated Press reports. When the suit was filed in July of 2020, it asked for $1 million from the city. Cory Elia and Lesley McLam were both contributing to Village Portland and KBOO Community Radio when they were arrested for live streaming a Black Lives Matter demonstration.
Besides this incident, this isn’t the first set of issues Porconcerningave had concerning citizens. The federal government filed a civil lawsuit in 2012 against the city of Portland, where a 15-month investigation concluded the police used excessive force against mentally ill people. Questions remain years later on how the city will account for improvements requested by the Justice Department. In 2021, a circuit court ruled the police force had violated state law by live streaming and recording protests. According to city records, the Associated Press notes that Portland paid $335,000 in 2021 to settle protest-related lawsuits involving police.
Elia was forced to the ground by at least four officers while live streaming the protest. McLam, who was trying to take Elias’ phone and press pass for him, was promptly tackled by police, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit further alleges Eliasuffered breathing difficulty from heightened asthma symptoms because of tear gas and a head injury.
Within the suit, Elia and McLam called for intensive training to be required for police on civil disobedience, the importance of the press, and crowd de-escalation techniques.
Elia said in a statement that he filed the suit “because the suppressive tactics used by the police to silence journalists is not only a violation of the First Amendment, but an attack on the public’s right to be informed of the injustices happening in their own community at the hands of those who are sworn to ‘protect and serve.’”