Portland standup comedian Christian Burke was released from jail Oct. 5 following an arrest on charges of assaulting a federal officer after federal prosecutors alleged Burke threw a rock at a federal agent on Aug. 22.
Prosecutors say Burke, 24, was part of a group of counterprotesters on Aug. 22. (A Proud Boys rally took place downtown that day.) Federal prosecutors allege Burke, from within the crowd of protesters, threw a "large rock" that hit a tree near a federal officer, and they say video confirms Burke threw the rock.
As a condition of their release, Burke—who also records music under the name Creme Brulee—agreed not to attend counterprotests (potentially indefinitely) or be present within five blocks of the federal courthouse in downtown Portland.
Burke has been a fixture at Portland's anti-police brutality protests. In July, they hosted a "dance off" downtown prior to a march, an example of what they call "joyful protest."
"That, I think, is a better 'threat' to the government than a peaceful protest," Burke told WW, "because a joyful protest is one that isn't going to stop."
"Because of the movement that's popped up," they say, "I've just been really grateful to—safely or not—be around the community here and express that joy and my favorite way to express joy, which is shaking my booty."
According to The Oregonian, Burke is one of 40 Portland protesters accused of assaulting a federal officer in the wake of the George Floyd protests.
A ProPublica investigation in July revealed that federal prosecutors were prohibiting releasing protesters from jail on the condition that they stop protesting. After criticism that such a condition was unconstitutional, federal defenders and prosecutors agreed to end that court practice. It is unclear how or why Burke's condition is considered different than those previously deemed unconstitutional besides the fact that it specifically prohibits counterprotests as opposed to all demonstrations.
Reached by email, Burke's attorney, Richard L. McBreen III, did not address the constitutionality of the conditions for his client's release.
"Christian Burke has no criminal history," McBreek said. "Christian Burke is presumed innocent.…The government is required to prove a person's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; that has not been accomplished."