Hales calls for investigation into use of force during protester arrests

PORTLAND, Ore. – Mayor Charlie Hales has asked for an independent investigation into the use of force during the arrest of three Portland activists taking part in an anti-Trump protest and march on Nov. 21.

Gregory McKelvey, Kathryn Stevens and Micah Rhodes were arrested for disorderly conduct and other charges after police said they were directing marchers, many of whom were middle-school and high-school students, to block traffic.

Hales said new video footage prompted his call for the investigation. 

“Late yesterday, I was made aware of new video footage showing a Portland Police officer arresting a protester. I take very seriously police use of force tactics in any situation. Therefore, I have asked the Independent Police Review to open an investigation regarding the use of force and police response to the November 21 protest,” Hales said in a statement released Wednesday.

McKelvey is the leader of the activist group "Portland's Resistance." He shared the video on Twitter.

Earlier Wednesday afternoon, the Portland Police Bureau released its arrest reports for all three activists.

According to the police report, an officer believed Stevens, who was facing him, was preparing to spit on him.

“I ordered her to look away from me but she refused. I then used a bureau taught pressure point with my pointer finger behind her right ear and ordered her to look away from me. This was very effective,” the report said.

Read the full report here

Hales, who also serves as police commissioner, says his top priority is public safety.

“Reports from November 21 show that police were responding to legitimate concerns about the safety of middle and high school students being directed to block traffic and disregard police instructions,” Hales said. “The independent review process is thorough, accurate and responsive, and if there are findings of wrongdoing, there will be proper discipline.”

Kathryn Stevens said she denies the police account.

"I was sitting, cuffed on the ground, staring into the distance. I don't know how I was a threat enough for them to grab my head and neck and hit me in that way," she said. "I remember that moment - it took me off guard, I was confused why it happened then and I still am now." 

She also said she felt "extremely traumatized" after the ordeal. 

"There's video going around of my head getting roughed up. I've seen it a lot of times and it makes me sick to my stomach," she said. 

Student protesters released a statement the day after the arrests, disputing what police said about the march. They said it was "clear from the start" that police were singling out McKelvey and Stevens.

Police encourage anyone who witnesses actions by a police officer that they feel could be misconduct to file a report with the Office of Independent Police Review.

KGW


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