The American Civil Liberties Union is helping multiple volunteer street medics who say that federal officials attacked them while they were trying to aid injured protestors.
Video of one of the attacks went viral a few days ago. It shows volunteers trying to help someone who was lying incapacitated on the ground. Security forces carrying guns and clubs force the medics back down the sidewalk before shoving them to the ground.
Savannah Guest is one of the medics seen in the video. “It was terrifying,” she wrote in a statement. “Every human being deserves help, but the federal agents showed no humanity or concern.”
The ACLU’s lawsuit argues that the attacks violate the First and Fourth Amendments. In addition to Guest, the plaintiffs include Michael Martinez, a volunteer medic and graduate student pursuing a degree in Medical and Molecular Genetics; Christopher Wise, a former EMT; Christopher Durkee, a mental health professional and EMT.
The lawsuit targets the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Marshalls Service, and the city of Portland, as well as Portland police officer Stephen B. Pettey, who is accused of wrongfully arresting one of the plaintiffs. In their filing, the plaintiffs describe ongoing health issues around exposure to tear gas, as well wounds from police-inflicted injuries that the medics have treated: sprains, contusions, broken bones, and traumatic brain injuries among others.
“Plaintiffs intend to continue rendering aid to protest attendees in Portland as a show of their solidarity and support for the protesters’ message, the Black Lives Matter movement, and for their own message to Defendants that their violence will not deter Oregonians from exercising their free speech rights,” the lawsuit concludes. They seek damages for their injuries, as well as a declaration that the federal officers — whoever they are — are not allowed to arrest them while rendering first aid.