DHS Memo Telling Cops How To Skirt Court Order On Targeting Journalists Leaks

Last week, a court order forbade Federal officers in Portland from attacking or targeting journalists. Now, a leaked memo shows that the Department of Homeland Security gave instructions on how to sidestep this order.

DHS memo leaks telling how to arrest journalists and take their equipment
[Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images]

The Nation reporter Ken Klippenstein obtained a copy of a memo from DHS. It includes instructions letting officers know under what circumstances they can still arrest a journalist, despite a court order forbidding them from targeting members of the press. For example, while journalists can’t be the target of tear gas or other crowd-control measures, officers aren’t violating the order if journalists are hit because of proximity to targets — so officers can still target crowds near a reporter, and the reporter may be hit by “incidental exposure.”

The memo also emphasizes that, while journalists can’t be arrested for failure to disperse, they can be arrested on suspicion of other crimes, and their equipment can still be seized upon arrest, but can’t be searched without a warrant. This must be returned upon the release of the arrestee — unless the arresting officer makes a case for it containing evidence, in which case it can be held while a search warrant is pursued.

Courthouse News reported just last week that the order not to target journalists came after a lawsuit alleging that police had been doing exactly that.

Attorney Matthew Borden told Judge Simon at Thursday’s hearing that federal police had mounted “incredible and despicable attacks” against journalists and legal observers. “A 70-year-old man marked ‘press’ from head to toe. Multiple attacks on a 17-year-old girl who stood far from the front. They shot Jungho Kim right in the press pass [with less-lethal munitions] and Lewis Rolland a dozen times in the back when he was standing under a streetlight so police could see the big block letters saying he was press.

“These are not accidents,” Borden continued. “These are not inadvertent shots. These are trained marksmen and these are the actions of a tyrant. They do not have a place in Portland, Oregon and they do not have a place under the First Amendment.

There has been some dispute in recent days about what exactly can be expected going forwards, with Portland officials saying that Federal forces were leaving the city, and the Trump administration responding to contradict this and say that feds would stay in the city until the administration is satisfied that “violent activity” has come to an end.

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