Mayor Hales opens use of force investigation into protest arrests
PORTLAND, Ore. –Police officials released the arrest reports of three leaders of Portland’s Resistance as a response to a video circulating on social media that questioned officers’ use of force.
The video shows a Portland Police officer using a pressure point to subdue an already handcuffed protester, 24-year-old Kathryn Stevens, during a peaceful protest against President Elect trump involving Portland Public Schools students.
Stevens was detained after she tried to stop police from arresting Portland’s Resistance leader, Gregory McKelvey.
Mayor Charlie Hales has also responded to the video, saying he has asked the Independent Police Review to investigate the use of force.
According to police the reports, officers were given orders to arrest McKelvey because they say he was directing the students to block traffic. McKelvey denied those accusations, saying his role was to advise the students who had already decided to march on their own accord.
Officers went in to arrest McKelvey when the protest moved to Salmon Street. Stevens hugged him and refused to let go when officers told her to do so. They eventually went to the ground and police said Stevens wrapped her legs around McKelvey as well. Officer Ryan Mele said he used her arm as leverage, and after McKelvey also asked her to stop she eventually let go.
The officer put her in handcuffs. In his report he said she "puffed up her cheeks and made a sound" like she was going to spit on officers (page 4, paragraph 2 of the report below). He said he ordered her to look away, and when she refused he tried using a mandibular angle pressure point to force her to turn away.
Once at the central precinct, Stevens said her left thumb was broken during the incident. Firefighters were called out for an evaluation and they “determined she was fine.”
In the Force Data Collection Reports filed for Stevens’ arrest (pages 7 and 31) there were notes of bruising and other injuries.
The third Portland’s Resistance member arrested that night was Micah Rhodes. Several police officers mentioned in their reports that he was directing students to block traffic and interfere with the officers that were directing the march.
Officer James Mooney reported hearing Rhodes saying, “spread out, cover those lanes” while the march moved west across the Burnside Bridge. In Mooney’s report, he said Rhodes then told him he was not responsible for organizing the protest, to which Mooney said he replied he “would be going to jail before the night was over.”
Rhodes was arrested for Disorderly Conduct II after the protest had disbanded near city hall.
The day following the arrests, McKelvey alleged that Hales may have had something to do with the arrests because Portland’s Resistance had planned counter-protests to coincide with the mayor’s March of Hope. Hales canceled his march and his office said, "the mayor, as police commissioner, does not have the authority to direct Portland Police to arrest anyone. People are arrested for breaking laws. To claim the mayor would arrest people for political retaliation is not only inaccurate, it is dangerous."
Full PPB release on the arrest reports from the protest:
Below is the full statement from Mayor Charlie Hales on the investigation into use of force:
Portland respects the First Amendment and we will always uphold the right to peacefully assemble and protest.
There have been many peaceful demonstrations over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, there have also been safety concerns such as walking onto freeways and blocking the MAX light-rail lines. Reports from November 21 show that police were responding to legitimate concerns about the safety of middle and high school students being directed to block traffic and disregard police instructions. As Police Commissioner, my number one priority is public safety for everyone in our city.
Late yesterday, I was made aware of new video footage showing a Portland Police officer arresting a protester. I take very seriously police use of force tactics in any situation. Therefore, I have asked the Independent Police Review to open an investigation regarding the use of force and police response to the November 21 protest. The independent review process is thorough, accurate and responsive, and if there are findings of wrongdoing, there will be proper discipline.