Cmsr Novick: Stop the retaliation against Liz Nichols

T.A. Barnhart

Cmsr Novick: Stop the retaliation against Liz Nichols

the infamous photo. Randy Rasmussen, The Oregonian. 2011-11-11.

You remember the picture, of course: a young woman in downtown Portland in the middle of a rowdy, yet peaceful, Occupy protest, getting a face full of pepper spray from a Portland cop. Liz Nichols was the young woman, and she took the City and the cop to court for damages.

And lost.

Now the City of Portland is doubling-down on its attacks on Liz Nichols. After she filed an appeal to her case, Deputy City Attorney David Landrum decided it was time to collect costs from her. He first tried to buy her off by trading the costs for no appeal; when she decided to pursue justice, he decided to pursue payback.

If that isn’t government using SLAPP tactics, I don’t know what is.

I’ve sent the following message to Commissioner Steve Novick, and I hope others will take the time to tell the Mayor and members of the Council that using the courts to bully a citizen seeking justice in not acceptable in Portland, Oregon.

Unless, of course, it is.

Commissioner Novick

The pepper-spraying of Liz Nichols was an outrageous abuse of police power, regardless of any jury decision. For the City to now continue to attack her as she works towards her college degree by demanding over $7,000 in “costs” is a further and unacceptable outrage. $5,195 of that cost is for transcript “fees”. 

What’s most egregious about this second attack on Ms Nichols is that, according to the report in The Oregonian, the City did not seek to recover these expenses until she filed an appeal against the original verdict. This is government-as-thug at its worst: using the power of a federal court order and the City’s legal might to punish a citizen who was pepper-sprayed without justification (the lone protester to be attacked in this way; a truly brave man wielding the weapon).

While I know you’re unlikely to want to speak against an officer of the Portland Police Bureau, you know the assault on Liz Nichols was unconscionable. There was no justification for that officer to blast her in the face with pepper spray, and there is no justification for the City of Portland to retaliate against her appeal in this manner. This is the action of a bully, not a city that wants to attain the status of a just, progressive city.

Tell Deputy City Attorney Landrum to drop the attack on Ms Nichols. Let this play out in the courts, as it should. Show us that Portland can be a different, and better, place than those run by thugs and crooks.

Like New Jersey.


T.A. Barnhart

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