WW presents “Distant Voices,” an interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they’re doing during quarantine.
Hannah Ahern was in high heels when bike cops slammed her to the pavement.
Ahern was walking to her car from her server job at a restaurant on Aug. 17, 2019—the afternoon of one of the largest gatherings of Proud Boys ever to hit downtown Portland. She wandered a couple blocks out of her way to take a look at the standoff. When she saw a police van with officers in riot gear hanging off the side, she spit on the ground in disgust.
What happened next is now the subject of a federal lawsuit. Ahern alleges that Portland Police Detective Erik Kammerer—now a despised figure among protesters for his alleged actions wearing the helmet number 67—directed a squadron of bicycle cops to arrest her for displaying her disgust with police.
“It just didn’t process to me, in the moment,” she says. “Once it clicked, ‘Well, I spit, but that can’t be…” I didn’t spit on anyone. I didn’t spit at anyone. I spit on the ground.”
In this interview with WW reporter Tess Riski, Ahern describes what the arrest was like, what especially bothered her about how officers acted, and whether it’s changed her opinion of cops. (Spoiler: no.)