National Lawyers Guild Plans to Sue Portland City Hall After a Police Officer Shoved a Legal Observer at Sunday’s Protests

The tort claim comes after Police responded with force at an antifascist demonstration in downtown Portland.

Portland police at a Sept. 10 protest. (Sam Gehrke)

The Portland chapter of the National Lawyers Guild filed a tort claim against the city of Portland, saying the organization is "outraged" that a Portland police officer shoved a volunteer legal observer as he watched officers make two arrests in downtown Sunday afternoon.

Video shot by an Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter shows a man named Christopher Kuttruff watching as police detained two members of a crowd of protestsers. An officer suddenly shoves Kuttruff hard.

The tort claim alleges that Kuttruff suffered injuries to his neck and back. It also alleges that the officer used excessive force without warning and that his actions add to a pattern of Portland police "targeting (and often assaulting and battering) lawfully-acting individuals in protest situations."

Kuttruff wore a bright green cap to identify himself as a legal observer with the Portland National Lawyers Guild.

"That unlawful use of force was not only an attack on Mr. Kuttruff but was also an unlawful attack on the people's universal human and state and federal constitutional rights to politically organize themselves and to engage in free speech and expression," says Kenneth A. Kreuscher, Kuttruff's attorney, in the tort claim.

Portland police are still reviewing each use of force at Sunday's rally, where seven people were arrested. Officers used pepper spray, pepper balls and a rubber-ball grenade to control crowds of antifascist protesters.

Asked about the video footage of violent arrests, Mayor Ted Wheeler issued a statement last night broadly supportive of police handling of the protests.

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