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Handicap Assault at Peace Camp

A report from the handicapped individual assaulted by the Police Saturday evening at the Portland Peace Encampment
Saturday night at the Portland Peace Encampment, I was discussing the Peace Camp's upcoming City Council testimony with several other member of the Camp. Because I was having severe back pain, I was sitting in a folding chair that I brought with me.

After several minutes, two Portland Police cars stopped in front of me and four policemen got out. Officer Greaves, badge #34586, told me they were seizing my chair as a violating their "Nothing Touching the Ground" standard of the Obstructions ordinance. I told them that the "Guidelines for enforcement of P.C.C 14A.50.030 - (Obstructions As Nuisances)" we had recently received from the City Attorney had nothing in about "Nothing Touching the Ground." I also told them I am handicapped and needed the chair. I produced my Tri-Met "Honored Citizen" card as proof and told them that I have a handicapped placard in my vehicle, which was parked in the handicap parking spot across the street. Officer Greaves also threatened to charge me with "Interfering with an Officer" until I told him that passively resisting a police officer is legal in Oregon.

This did not deter them. After giving me a property receipt for the chair, two officers grabbed me by the arms, pulled the chair out from under me, then dropped me. When I tried to get up, the pain was too great, so I lay back down. I requested they call an ambulance, but they refused. One of the other peace campers called 911 for me, but 911 hung up on me when they found out the police were already there. The 911 operator didn't seem to care that my injuries were caused by the police. The police finally called for medical assistance only after repeated requests. However, the police also refused to get me a blanket because by then I was shivering from lying on the cold concrete.

There are several witnesses to all of this, and to the back pain I had been having earlier in the day, including a paralegal worker with a law degree.

An ambulance finally arrived and they strapped me to a back board. They took me to St. Vincent's Hospital where I was diagnosed with a severely back injury. They treated and released me with orders for follow up treatments on Monday with my regular doctor.

I have been bedridden for most of the day Sunday, once the pain killers they gave me at the hospital wore off. I am able to sit for only short periods at my computer.

I have also been in contact with an attorney and intend to press this matter in the court. I will also discuss this when I testify at the Wednesday May 15th City Council meeting.

-Andy Seaton
Call Alan Graf 12.May.2003 04:19

no police brutality

You should call Alan Graf, he is a lawyer and has a law suit against the Police for using exesive force on protesters.

Alan Graf
1020 SW Taylor St., Ste 370
Portland, Oregon 97205
(503) 452-2375

911 didn't care? 12.May.2003 08:11


"The 911 operator didn't seem to care that my injuries were caused by the police"

I wouldn't expect them to ... their job is to respond to calls and get the appropriate support services to the appropriate places as quickly as possible ... essentially a dispatch role. You make it clear that you'd already informed them the police were present. That's the end of the story from their perspective and they are supposed to move on to the next call in the queue ... someone else who is in need of emergency response. They are not supposed to stay on the line and commiserate with you about your situation ... that's not their role.

yeah, 911 didn't care 12.May.2003 09:36


Yeah, 911 didn't care. I spoke to them for Andy.

The 911 dispatcher is supposed to send emergency medical response when summoned by people who need it and call 911 for that assistance. It has nothing to do with 'commiserating' with the caller. It is about protecting the health and well-being of the citizens of Portland.

Yeah, the cops were there, but they CAUSED the problem and there is no reason to take their ignorance and failure to do their important jobs correctly as the final word on seeking medical assistance.

You might note that it was the police who eventually summoned EMS and fire resources, after repeated refusals to admit the ramifications of their actions. I guess the finally saw the light.

Peace out.

911 shouldn't care!! 12.May.2003 09:50


"You might note that it was the police who eventually summoned EMS and fire resources, ...."

Which is exactly how it's supposed to go. 911 is a dispatch operation that is designed to facilitate getting a response team (fire, police, ambulance, etc ...) on site as quickly as possible. They evaluate only in the sense of trying to get the appropriate type of response on site.

Once a response team is on site, 911 steps out of the picture, as is appropriate. As with all such systems, evaluation of further action is the role of the people on site. They're in the best position to judge what else might be needed, not someone on the other end of the telephone.

We can certainly question the police handling of the incident, but 911 was spot on in fulfilling their role. They did exactly what they were supposed to do ... ensured that a response team was present and then stepped back out of the way.

Nice try, skate. 12.May.2003 11:09

PDX Citizen

Skate, if you're a 911 operator, don't take this so personally, but look and see how the system is flawed. The man needed help, and the 911 operator actually stalled in "getting the appropriate response." Because if a person is injured, the police are NOT the appropriate responders, as the operators would have known. And if the police are the people responsible for causing the injury, then that is doubly true.

I've actually seen this happen before myself. I was at a protest where a person required immediate medical attention, and she did not get it because the 911 operator handled it the same way. She told the person making the call that she would not respond unless a police officer made the call. So then someone had to try to get a cop to call, but have you ever tried requesting anything from the portland police? They won't even give you their names even under ordinary circumstances. Try getting them to help when they're busy spraying mace at peaceful protesters. Busy busy busy.

Thanks to all black cross collective people and all the other street medics with less recognizeable names! None of them ask if you're a good enough person to seek their help. They just help.

PDX citizen 12.May.2003 11:44


I'm not a 911 operator. Nor do I maintain that the system isn't flawed. I just see the flaws as being in a different part of the system. I believe 911 is doing precisely what it should. I believe the 'person on the spot' should be calling the shots, not someone on the other end of a phone line.

If you wish to say the 'person on the spot' isn't doing the right thing, I wouldn't argue with you.

My concern is with the notion of pumping effort into fixing that which doesn't need fixing, rather than addressing the real problem, which is how the police (in this case) handle things on the scene.

I believe we want a dispatch function (911) that focuses purely on dispatch and gets out of the way as quickly as possible ... to move on and respond to other emergency calls. The issue is the police on the scene. If they aren't responding appropriately, fix that. Don't waste time trying to fix 911, something that isn't broken.

To skate 12.May.2003 12:04


Yes, the 911 system should dispatch and then get out the of the way, as you say. But how is that enhanced by ignoring the person making the call if it's not a cop? And yes, they should respond to the "person on the spot" -- whether that's a cop or not.

Observer 12.May.2003 12:12


It's an aspect of getting out of the way. In this case, it's supposed to prevent waste of resource.

Visualize a situation in which a raft of good citizens view an accident and all call 911 on their cell phones, requesting help. 911 (or the system, if you prefer) needs a way of preventing that ... in effect saying, "this situation has already been responded to and help is on the way". Otherwise, you end up with a raft of abulances at site A and none available for site B.

Observer ... addendum 12.May.2003 12:21


oops ... clicked the button too fast.

Another visualization ... imagine being a 911 operator who's being told by a police office that all is under control while also being told by a bystander that help is needed. To respond to the bystander, the 911 operator would, in effect, have to tell the police that 1) they didn't buy their assessment and 2) they were going to overrule it.

That's just not a judgement call that can be made effectively over the telephone. What would be the criteria for determining that in situation A the police were correct about the need for additional resources but in situation B they were lying to cover their butts while they pounded on demonstrators?

The only effective mechanism I can see is to have 911 try to quickly send resources and then trust the resource at the scene to behave appropriately. If the city and citizens don't like the results (and there are certainly enough situations where they shouldn't like them), to me the fix is repairing the on-the-scene response, not the dispatch function.

skate, i understand your point 12.May.2003 15:54


but the bottom line is, if a citizen calls a dispatcher assigned to send emergency services to those who call for help, their call should not be "overruled" by a higher authority in the name of "preventing waste of resources." The opportunity cost of that sort of decision could be a life. Your assertions that 911 should not respond to a citizen call if the police say they have it in hand is as viable as not responding to a wife batterer if he gets on the line and says, "oh, no. that's all right. i have everything under control here." If you're considering some of these cops any better than the aforementioned batterer, you've got your eyes firmly shut. Which is a shame. You seem otherwise rational. Plus, allowing one person to negate another person's call for help further complicates the situation, rather than streamlining it. 911 should dispatch to the scene if they get an emergency call. period.

a thought 12.May.2003 22:22


Okay, let's see if I can do this without screwing it up.

You might be interested in sage brush's suggestion in the comments beneath "Peace Camper Abused by Police"


At least I thought it was an interesting idea and possibly a workable approach.

damn ... it worked 12.May.2003 22:25


I'm so proud ... B-)

Why? 13.May.2003 03:59


Unfortunately I must disagree. I oppose the imperialist regime over our heads and the police who back them but there is one problem: He is not trustworthy. I cannot stand silent while he claims he is suffering from such a handicap. The answer to all of this is not to defraud everyone! Truth will set us free. I am saddened that he is lying to get his message of peaceful resistance across. Shame on him. He cannot do this. I am afraid I have to say he lies when he makes his claims about being unable to do more than go to the computer. I hear he was at the Peace Encampment sunday afternoon. This is wrong. If the cop did wrong he did wrong but lies do not help our cause which is justice and the truth. He is letting us down. I am sorry but I must speak up but it is right to do.

skate 13.May.2003 13:51


sage brush's idea ( http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2003/05/264550.shtml ) is interesting and would, imo, be much better than what we have now. I would say, however, that his idea should be utilized for demonstrations or other such large gatherings but for other situations, including something so small as the peacecamp, the "if you call 911, 911 dispatches emergency services. period." rule should apply. I still say it's the simplest, fairest policy.

thanx for all your thoughtful discussion, by the way.

hmmm 13.May.2003 19:30


why is everyone concentrating on the 911 part of the sentance...i think the point of the story is that the police caused an injury . who are people suppose to call if the police cannot make people feel safe? It's becomming a theme that is all to common these days.

duh. 13.May.2003 21:22


people are concentrating on the 911 part of the story because that's who you call if you have an emergency, like the police beating you up, the latter of which is no surprise to anyone.