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Constitutional Rights and the Public’s Health

Don’t Shoot Portland v. City of Portland


Don’t Shoot Portland v. City of Portland (U.S. District Court, District of Oregon, June 9, 2020): The court granted (in part) the non-profit Don’t Shoot Portland’s request that the City of Portland be prohibited from using tear gas as a crowd control tactic in response to recent protests. While the City had internal policies in place limiting tear gas use, video evidence showed officers using it in response to peaceful gatherings protesting the death of George Floyd and other acts of police violence. The court held that the tear gas use against peaceful protestors could be considered excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment and may infringe on constitutionally protected expression under the First Amendment. Additionally, such use could compromise protestors’ health by exacerbating the spread and effects of COVID-19. Because the threat of immediate, irreparable harm to protestors outweighed any harm to police officers’ ability to protect themselves, the City could not use tear gas to disperse crowds where the lives or safety of the public or police were not at risk. The order lasted for 14 days. Read the full opinion here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – August 11, 2020.

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