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Don’t Shoot Portland Activist Teressa Raiford Sues City for $500,000 Over Her Arrest at Protest

The lawsuit says police made disparaging comments about the the Black Lives Matter movement as they arrested her.

Don't Shoot Portland organizer Teressa Raiford today sued the city over her 2015 arrest and subsequent acquittal on charges of disorderly conduct.

Raiford says Portland police targeted her for arrest at an event she organized to honor the life of Michael Brown, the unarmed black man killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

She says she was doing nothing wrong, and claims police singled her out because they knew her reputation as an outspoken activist against police brutality.

Her lawsuit, filed this afternoon in Multnomah County Circuit Court, asks for $500,000 in damages. And it says police made disparaging comments about the the racial-justice movement as they arrested her.

"In my experience, 90 percent of black people killed are killed by other black people," Raiford claims Officer Susan Billard said as she locked Raiford into a patrol car.

A Portland Police Bureau spokesman says the bureau does not typically comment on pending litigation. Raiford tells WW that she's eager for her day in court.

"I think everybody knows what happened and everybody knows it wasn't okay," Raiford says. "I'm hopeful that that jury's going to see who we are and that we're going to break this system of injustice. I'm just looking forward to the fight. I'm like, bring it on. I can't wait to fight for those privileges of public safety and constitutional freedom that we all deserve."

Her attorney, Matthew McHenry, says he took the case because he wants to curb police suppression of dissent.

"The jury acquittal on the criminal charge," he says, "did little to address or discourage the PPB's suppressive and intimidating conduct toward the voices in our community with which it does not agree."

Raiford was standing just a few feet off the curb near the intersection of Southeast 82nd and Division, addressing a crowd of attendees who were mostly on the sidewalk when the officer in charge, Portland Police Bureau Sergeant Jacob Clark, told four cops to arrest her, according to the complaint. The four cops approached Raiford from behind, the lawsuit states. She says she spun around and put her hands up when other protesters yelled her name to alert her.

"I am not resisting," Raiford said when two officers handcuffed her.

Still, she says police walked her across the street and shoved her into the back of a cop car.

One of Raiford's charges, interference with a police officer, was later dismissed. She was acquitted by a jury of disorderly conduct in April 2016. Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Michael Greenlick ruled during that trial that police had no probable cause to arrest Raiford.

Raiford demands $500,000 for false arrest in a lawsuit filed two years to the day after the incident.