portland independent media center  
images audio video
promoted newswire article reporting portland metro

human & civil rights | police / legal


If you're not paranoid you're not paying attention. I stepped out during the film(Shots On The Docks) for a smoke. Before I went inside I noticed a man, who had been walking around the parking lot, looking at the front of a vehicle in the parking lot. At the time I didn't think much of it, thinking maybe it was his car. The man(wearing an ILWU shirt) never came inside. After the video showing I caught a ride with someone. It was but a few minutes later that we were pulled over...

The cop started searching through the car and through the drivers bag. Even after I told the driver to clearly state that he did not consent to a search of his property and he stated this, the cop continued the search. Having already called the tow truck without telling us, the cop told him that he had a "choice". Either leave the car and find a way home or he was going to tow the car and give him a ticket. The driver pleaded with the cop that there must be some sort of mistake("mistake" indeed, maybe a PJTTF "computer glitch"!). Then the tow truck arrived and the cop told him that he was towing him because he argued with him when he was so generous as to offer him a "choice". So then we were stranded and had to walk to the nearest MAX stop and find our way from there.
The cop came up to the driver and asked him if he had been drinking. He claimed that the driver swurved into the other lane and almost hit another car(funny, you'd think either of us would have noticed if something like that had happened!). The driver, being very surprised at this, replied that he had not and that he only had been drinking apple juice and coffee. The cop's act was not very convincing as he did not even care to do a sobriety test. His main concern was with finding out who the driver was. He scowered his i.d. and took it back to his pig mobile and ran the i.d. After a long time the cop came back and told him that his license was suspended. Which was quite a surprise to the driver because he had never received any notice of this and he's been living at the same address for quite some time. Also there would be no reason whatsoever for his license to be suspended in the first place. The cop then turned to me and asked if I had i.d. To which I of course replied no. At that point I gathered my bags and my son and got out of the car. The cop started searching through the car and through the drivers bag. Even after I told the driver to clearly state that he did not consent to a search of his property and he stated this, the cop continued the search. Having already called the tow truck without telling us, the cop told him that he had a "choice". Either leave the car and find a way home or he was going to tow the car and give him a ticket. The driver pleaded with the cop that there must be some sort of mistake("mistake" indeed, maybe a PJTTF "computer glitch"!). Then the tow truck arrived and the cop told him that he was towing him because he argued with him when he was so generous as to offer him a "choice". So then we were stranded and had to walk to the nearest MAX stop and find our way from there.

Now this could just be all coincidence. But with all the shit that I've seen lately, I doubt it. Obviously, I'm pissed, but mostly I'm insulted that these assholes would think that they can harass me into submission! As if anything that they could do to me would cause me to abandon my ideals! What they're going to learn real quick is that they're going to have to kill me to stop me! I will NOT back down! If anything, they've confirmed my thoughts and fanned the flames of my spirit!

homepage: homepage: http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2003/07/268067.shtml

Stay strong V! 16.Jul.2003 00:26


This empire is eating itself. Sorry you guys fell into the hands of the Gestapo. People should flood the mayor's office with calls telling her what they think of her city's little fourth reich. (503) 823-4120, Fax: (503) 823-3588,  mayorkatz@ci.portland.or.us

stop the gestapo 16.Jul.2003 00:50

stop the gestapo

stop the gestapo

WY'EAST You're A Jerk 16.Jul.2003 07:39

Doesn't Really Matter

WY'EAST: You weren't there,you don't know what happened so shut the fuck up!
People who have never experienced police harassment tend to want to close their eyes to the problem and pretend it doesn't exist.I'm here to tell you it does.Any of us could be their next. victim.We need to support one another and put a stop to this intimidation brought on by local,state and federal authorities.Get pissed then do something about it.

don't just leave it at that 16.Jul.2003 07:55


If the incident you described happened exactly as you describe it, it's a very chilling signal for civil liberties in Portland. You shouldn't leave it with one little anonymous post to indymedia. You owe it to your fellow citizens, if at all possible, to make a NON-ANONYMOUS report of the incident, complete with affidavits from both witnesses, and any other supporting information, such as the badge number of the officer, for example.

once 16.Jul.2003 09:43


once, i was pulled over while driving home after a date, and they made me walk a line and count backwards while touching my nose. i hadn't had anything to drink all night.

it's obvious the cops are just trying to harass and intimidate daters.

This is only the beginning 16.Jul.2003 10:30


Yes, V, stay strong. We all will. And we'll watch each other's backs as we always do. No, you're not just being paranoid.

As for "me's" advice, riiight. Like reporting this incident to the "proper authorities" is gonna make any difference. Yeh, just like it makes a difference that Kendra James was unarmed and Scott McCollister shot her down in cold blood with witnesses who swore out statements. Yeh, just like it makes a difference that Jose Mejia Poot was shot down in cold blood in a mental hospital. Just like it made a difference in Sacramento that 8000 cops showed up to beat, intimidate, harass, and illegally arrest people to silence any dissent against Monsanto's proprietary poison. Just like all those witnesses who swore out statements when cops here in Portland pepper sprayed babies last summer. Yeh. Riiiight.

You're doing the right thing, V. Protect your identity and tell your story. We live in the real world, where the police state is breathing down our necks. Not in Mayberry, where making a report to the proper authorities will make everything all right again.

car profiling 16.Jul.2003 10:37

aaron sea

It may have been coincedental that you were stopped on the way back from a gathering of progressive people, some activists. But what kind of car do you drive? Do you have any stickers .e. the familiar blue and white "Attack Iraq? NO!" sticker, or others that might peg you as a threat to Homeland security or whomever? Years ago I drove a beater 1976 Nova, and I had a collection of stickers, most of which could be bought at the mall, and at least 2 or 3 KNRK stickers, and one that said "Pee for enjoyment, not for employment, which I covered not to advertise "pothead" to the cops (I only did on rare occasions back then), but because I got tired of gas station attendants thinking it's clever, like I did just long enough to buy and slap on my bumper. Anyhow, I would often get pulled over, usually for a broken taillight, but sometimes for stupid shit, like being targeted as a drunk driver because I was slowing down to look for a street or address. For the last 4 years I have driven a somewhat newer and less conspicuous car, and I have never been pulled over (I drive a lot less too). Maybe you'd be a lot safer from the Po pos if you stuck an American flag on your antenna, and honk and burn exhaust in the middle of critical mass. Then they'll leave you alone.

why it matters to make a detailed report 16.Jul.2003 11:20


The reason I suggested it would be important to make a detailed report, preferably a sworn statement giving one's identity, is that it would help to alert people in the community of the seriousness of the matter. If it's left as an anonymous post like this, then it's easier for people to discount it under the assumption that it is perhaps an exaggeration or confabulation. I didn't mean to suggest that such a detailed report would result in official action to redress the situation. Believe me, I'm not under any illusions about that. I simply think that people need highly credible information to protect themselves. How else am I to judge the probability that cops really are actively profiling and targeting random people at low-key, completely legal events that attract "activist" audiences? If that is really the case, it represents a pretty dramatic escalation of repressive tactics.

At this point, I'd like more information to judge whether I really have to worry about this, and whether as a community we should also be escalating our own countermeasures. It would be very important to know this, as taking extensive countermeasures against these tactics could be costly in time and effort. I don't think we want to have to start doing so unless we know we really have to. For example, does this mean that anyone who leaves an "activist-oriented" event of any kind who can't afford to pay for the costs of possibly having to get their car released from impoundment should be accompanied by legal observers, and possibly cameras as well? Does this mean we should have people at all such events whose dedicated role is to be on the lookout for suspicious cars or individuals staking the place out? Etc.

To "Me" 16.Jul.2003 13:11


Yes, Me, I understand your point. However, giving V's identity would also alert the police state to a possible target upon whom to direct their animosity. Those of us who know V already know this is a credible report. And anyone active politically either already knows or soon will learn that such things are happening with frightening regularity, here and elsewhere. Fascism is rising. Take what precautions you will.

To me 16.Jul.2003 14:38


Unfortunately, the answers to your last two questions are qualified yes's. Though trying to have legal observers at every video showing and speaking event is probably impossible and probably overkill, the harassment of V is by no means unusual. We need to start thinking about the best ways to counter this lo-grade state terror and the escalation to come.

Driver's notes 16.Jul.2003 17:24


I'm the guy that got pulled over and I've spent all day jumping through the hoops of the goddamn system to figure out just what in the hell happened last night.
Turns out that SURPRISE it was all a mistake and my license wasn't suspended. Apparently, somebody at the DMV made a mistake back in May when they were threatening to suspend my license if I didn't have a medical examination to prove that I didn't have a drinking problem. I moved here from outta state several months ago and had a DUI there. Anyway, the ME office told me in May just to fax in a simple form stating that I didn't have a problem and they wouldn't go through with the suspension. Well, they lifted the requirement for a ME but forgot to lift the suspension. So that's the story.

So, yeah, I do think that the pig actually thought that my license was suspended but I also think that he only pulled me over because I was coming back from this showing. Also, it doesn't help that A) my car had out of state plates and B) I do have a "Don't Attack Iraq" sticker on the back of it.

Since I've moved to PDX, I've gotten pulled over at least once a month, usually just cops wondering what I'm doing, intimidating me and all that shit. Out of all of the times I've been pulled over, I've only been issued a ticket once (aside from last night).

So despite the fact that the pig did think my license was suspended, he and all of the others have been stepping all over my rights since I got here. The cop didn't need to search my bag and I let him know that I wasn't consenting to it (THANK YOU V) and he still didn't care.

Well, my cars still in lock down. After getting a new and free license, I was told that I have to go through the city to get a release for my car and then I have to go to Risk Management in Salem to file a claim to get reimbursed for it, which I actually think that they will do.

Regardless of if I get completely reimbursed, I still feel like a victim. I was stranded in downtown with my comrade and her young son while my car and ID was stolen. I will not take this and, last night, they made a revolutionary out of me.

More info 16.Jul.2003 17:31


Maybe under other circumstances I would see this as mear coincidence, but I've been seeing alot of these "coincidental" traffic stops happening to people I know. The car belonged to the driver's conservative parents, so no there were no bumper stickers and it was kind of a grandma car not like a vdub or some "young person's car". We were not dressed "strange". We had just gotten off work and went straight to the event. Even though the cop claimed he pulled us over because he suspected that the driver had been drinking, he had no interest in finding out whether he had been. He didn't do any sobriety test or even shine a light in his eyes. He only wanted his i.d. and he immediately went back to the car and ran a check. He also was more interested in searching the vehicle and the driver's bag. Also the driver's license is NOT suspended, but he still has to appear in court to prove it is not and either way has to pay money to get his car out of tow. As for what to do, I would say travel in groups and ride bikes or walk as often as you can because you actually have more rights in those situations then you do in a car. Read into your rights and read up on security culture. Think of clever ways to be secure but REMAIN EFFECTIVE. My assumption is that the suspicious man in the parking lot was taking down license plates(this is quite common) and called them in so when police saw them they pulled them over. I wish I had not ignored this man. I should have watched him more closely. I wish more people at that event were tapped into Indymedia so that we could find out if anybody else was bothered or if I was singled out. It's also interesting to note that the keyspeaker was talking about police brutality towards and surveilance of unions under Homeland Security and the PATRIOT act. He was speaking out about his recent experiences with severe harassment and surveilance. The cops really don't like him and REALLY don't want him getting local unions even more riled up than they already are over this. I do not wish to come out more publicly on this because I would prefer to keep my effectiveness and remain low profile. I do not wish to trap myself as a high profile decoy.

Never take a car within 5 blocks! 16.Jul.2003 17:47

Luke from DC

Shit like this is why I never take ANY car within five blocks of a normal action or several miles of a major one like an IMF protest. When they try shit like this with your bike and you refuse to stop, they don't have a license plate with your name on it and can't try to come to your house.

In a car, if cops tail you, you can legally try to evade them if they do not turn on their lights and siren. On the road, do not allow cops to follow you directly behind. If you can't shake tehm, pull into a gas station and get some gas. Most cops don't want to argue with someone with a loaded gas pump anymore than a someone with a loaded gun. Get a small prepaid debit card for starting the pump in this kind of emergency. The time I did this the cop decided to scram! If you lose them, park in a lot, go into a bar, and have a soda for at least half an hour. In this particular case if you had called them on it even after stopping(getting back in the car, firing up and driving away damned fast) it is possible that the cop, knowing he was out of line, would have backed off so as not to have to admit to dispatch what he was doing. I've had this happen when I've put cops who went over the line in situations where they could not defeat me without help. The downside of this is that if there is ANY legal reason why they could stop you, they could call dispatch, say nothing about towing or other illegal action, and just say you ran from a legal traffic stop. On a bike, by comparison, you win or lose(I'm used to winning) at the scene.

Whenevey you drive a car, you are in an absolute and total police state. You are required to display your identity by a licese plate, be licensed by the Enemy,and can be stopped and fined for even the most trivial violations. While they would love to have the same for pedestrians and bike, a law requiring people to wear large external ID numbers would be hell even for Bu$h to get passed. This being the case, it stands to reason that the car should left farther away from any even than cops are likely to be looking. That way, you can get rid of the pigs without displaying a license plate at any time, and the only way to roadblock a bike is with wall to wall riot cops or fencing!

Lastly, the cops need to get the idea that protestors are going to become aggressive if harassed. If they have reason to believe that there is any risk whatsoever in harassing people(even the slightest), the KIND of harassment will be heavier but there will be a greatly reduced FREQUENCY of it. At least that's what I've seen.

thanks for the further info 16.Jul.2003 20:36


Thanks to the two of you for the further info. I respect your desire to remain anonymous. I agree with V! it would be helpful to have a more systematic collection procedure for getting reports of these incidents. I think V! should still go to pdx copwatch and file a report. I think they could keep your identity confidential, but still disseminate the word to people in the community about the rate of such incidents. They are probably in the best position of anyone to be keeping detailed reports and statistics of this nature. Anyone from copwatch care to make any observations or recommendations on this score? Is there in fact yet any move afoot on the part of copwatch or anyone else to collect such reports and statistics and get the word out about it to the community? I think we should be urging people to get as much supporting observation as possible, such as names and badge numbers. For instance, a group like copwatch could discover through such reports if there are consistently certain officers who seem to be engaged in a pattern of covert and overt political targetting and surveillance.

In the past, civil liberties groups, on the strength of such detailed information, have sometimes been able to win injunctions against police departments in the courts by showing clear patterns of politically motivated targetting. Chicago PD, for instance, was under a court order for more than a decade enjoining it from politically motivated surveillance without a court order.

goddamn police state 17.Jul.2003 13:38


I don't think this is paranoid at all. I also would like to commend the author of the article for getting her son the hell out of the car. Cops are fucking insane, and it was smart to remove her kid from this potentially fatal situation.

You go, V! 18.Jul.2003 10:06

PDX Citizen

V! must be white, though, as she wasn't shot as she tried to exit the car with her little boy. Thank God. The cops are CRAZY.