Portland protests: Navy veteran speaks after video of federal officers flying him goes viral

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Christopher David, a 53-year-old disabled Navy veteran, was so angry at the sight of federal officers sweeping the protesters the last few nights on the streets of Portland, Oregon, that he decided to tell them about it .

The resident of the city, who has served more than eight years in the US Navy, boarded a public bus on Saturday and headed for a demonstration in front of the city courthouse in the hope of being able to ask them questions.

“I was pissed off just because I didn’t think they were taking their oath of office seriously or compromising their oath of office,” David said. The independent. “So I went down because I wanted to tell them about it.”

His advances were repelled, however, and he suffered a brutal attack which was filmed and went viral on Sunday.

In the video, first shared by a journalist from Portland Tribune, Mr. David is seen taking a series of batons from a federal agent, without reacting to any of them, before being finally forced by the pepper spray in the face.

“I held out then and stayed there … I did nothing provocative. They just started crying over me with batons, and I left them, ”David said.

“I probably could have taken a lot more baton blows if they hadn’t sprayed pepper spray on my eyes,” he added.

The use of federal agents to suppress protests in Portland has come under heavy criticism from local and national leaders. Federal agents from the United States Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs and the Federal Protection Service of the Department of Homeland Security were deployed to Portland on orders from the Trump administration.

Their mandate was to protect federal buildings, but they have been accused of driving unmarked cars and seizing people from the streets in recent days in the city, which has seen nightly racial justice protests since the murder of George Floyd by the police.

Mr. David detailed how federal agents exited the courthouse on Saturday night and immediately began “pushing people to the intersection.”

“It was just chaos,” said David about the moment. “That’s when I wanted to walk up to them and talk to them because they were not respecting their oath of office.”

“Did any of you sign up?” Why don’t you keep your oath? Mr. David yelled at the officers because of the noise of the crowd.

The moment was described as chaotic by Mr David because the officers were already taking “aggressive” and “crazy” action against the protesters within minutes of leaving the courthouse.

“There didn’t seem to be a design, strategy or plan for what they were doing,” he said. “It was weird. One would almost have the impression that they were afraid.

Images then showed Mr. David motionless in front of the officers, his hands beside him. He was carrying nothing in his hands and only had a backpack with his ID card and wallet on him.

A policeman then started hitting him with a baton when another cayenne pepper spray sprayed his eyes, which prompted the man to finally step away from the federal agents and walk towards the crowd.

The moment went viral after it was first shared on Twitter, with people calling Mr. David “Captain Portland” and praising him for standing still when officers used aggressive force.

“This guy is a brick. And wow. I can’t believe this is how someone who looks harmless is treated, ”a Twitter commenter wrote after viewing the footage.

The footage stopped with Mr. David walking away, but that wasn’t the end of him.

A street doctor named Tav, who uses the pronouns they / them, helped steer the man away from the crowd because the pepper spray made it difficult for him to see. Then, with the help of friends, the doctor put Mr. David in an ambulance so that he could be transported to the nearby VA hospital.

Although the altercation with the officers was brief, the moment left the man’s hand severely damaged after a baton struck right against his knuckles.

“It is quite damaged. I’m probably going to have to have surgery, ”said David.

It was in the emergency room that Mr. David discovered that he had become a viral star after his confrontation with federal agents.

“I exchanged phone numbers with Tav so that I could call them later and thank them for saving me from the park,” he said. It was Tav who called him up then and revealed that everyone was now referring to him as “Captain Portland” following the altercation.

“I had no scary idea,” he added.

State and local officials have spoken out against the Trump administration for its use of federal agents to quell protests. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler called for officers to be kicked out of the city, calling their use a “direct threat to democracy,” but the Trump administration has not budged.

In a tweet released on Sunday, Trump said his administration was trying to “help” Portland, not “hurt him”.

“We must protect federal property AND OUR PEOPLE. They weren’t just protesters, they are the real deal, ”he wrote.

But residents like Mr. David saw the administration’s response as an effort to create discontent in “any big blue city”.

“This is just the first domino to fall,” he says. “He’s trying to see how far he can push in Portland and create some kind of model for other cities so he can create enough chaos and discontent to try to win the election again. All of this only doubles its strategy of division and chaos.

David admitted that demonstrators displayed more aggressive behavior during the Saturday night demonstration, including breaking the fences outside the courthouse and placing them against the front doors. But the response from federal officers, he said, was not justified.

“Their response is incredibly disproportionate and is designed to incite anger, division, chaos and riots,” he said of the federal officials. “This is the only reason they are here. They are not trying to suppress or dominate the city. They’re trying to wreak havoc, because that’s how Trump works.

Despite the injury to his hand, Mr. David planned to attend another protest in Portland. But now he has considered using his voice in different ways after his argument with officers.

“I would do it again but sometimes I have to listen to better advice from other people,” he says. “I am 53 years old and I am not indestructible. “

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