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Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Navy veteran who was beaten by federal agents during Portland protest says he approached them to ask why they were violating their oath to protect and serve - and he left with a broken hand

A US Navy veteran who was beaten by federal agents during a protest in Portland is speaking out about the attack captured in a viral video.  
Chris David, 53, said he was drawn to Saturday night's protest after seeing horrifying footage of federal officers driving around the Oregon city in unmarked cars, snatching demonstrators off the streets and spraying them with tear gas. 
As a former service member himself, he said he wanted to talk plainly with the agents about why they were so blatantly violating their oath to protect and serve.  
But when he approached a group of the agents outside Portland's federal courthouse, he said one officer beat him with a baton, breaking his hand in two places, while another sprayed him with chemicals.  
'I wanted to ask them: "Why are you guys not following the Constitution?"' David told Reuters. 
'But we never got there. They whaled on me like a punching bag.'
US Navy veteran Chris David, 53, spoke out after a video of him getting beaten up by federal agents during a Portland protest on Saturday night went viral
US Navy veteran Chris David, 53, spoke out after a video of him getting beaten up by federal agents during a Portland protest on Saturday night went viral
Video showed a federal officer beating David with a baton before a second officer sprayed him in the face with chemicals
Video showed a federal officer beating David with a baton before a second officer sprayed him in the face with chemicals
'I wanted to ask them: "Why are you guys not following the Constitution?"' David said. 'But we never got there. They whaled on me like a punching bag'
'I wanted to ask them: "Why are you guys not following the Constitution?"' David said. 'But we never got there. They whaled on me like a punching bag' 
Portland protester shrugs off beating and tear-gassing by police
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A video appearing to show David being beaten by a federal officer and sprayed with a chemical by another while he stood passively went viral over the weekend, racking up nearly 11 million views by Monday.  
In the footage, David was seen wearing a Navy sweatshirt as the first agent struck him at least three times before the second sprayed a substance directly in his face, prompting him to turn away.  
As he started to walk away, the first agent hit David at least two more times before he threw his middle finger in the air and retreated.  
Afterward David was widely praised on social media for allegedly standing up to federal officers accused of excessive force and escalating violence as they protect federal buildings. 
David stood passively as the officers attacked him with a baton and chemicals
David stood passively as the officers attacked him with a baton and chemicals  
David threw his middle fingers in the air as he retreated from the officers in a cloud of tear gas
David threw his middle fingers in the air as he retreated from the officers in a cloud of tear gas 
David filled in more details of the confrontation in an interview with The Washington Post
He said when he first arrived at the protest he stayed back from most of the crowd because he has pre-existing health conditions that make him especially vulnerable to contracting coronavirus. 
The protest - which marked the 51st night of unrest in the city since the death of George Floyd - kicked off with police firing tear gas into a line of local moms who had linked arms as they demanded that federal agents stop targeting Portland residents.  
David stood back and watched the drama unfold before he saw the federal agents emerge outside the courthouse and rush into a line of protesters, knocking them to the ground.  
He said he then walked toward the agents and shouted: 'Why are you not honoring your oath? Why are you not honoring your oath to the Constitution?'

That's when he said one officer drew his weapon and pointed it at him while several others shoved him, causing him to stumble backward.  
David regained his balance and again moved toward the agents, at which point he was repeatedly bludgeoned and sprayed with chemicals.  
With vision blurred and eyes stinging, David made his way through a suffocating cloud of tear gas to a bench, where a street medic came to help him. 
He was later transported to the hospital, where an X-ray revealed that his right hand had been broken in two places. 
David said he's seen the praise he's received on social media from people calling him a hero - but he says that's not the case.  
'It's just us normal people out there,' he said. 'There were a whole group of pregnant moms standing out there linking arms and they got gassed. 
'You hear people like [President] Trump say it's just a bunch of wacko fringe people in liberal cities who are out there, but no way. We're all just normal people who think what's happening is wrong.'
Saturday's protest kicked off with police spraying tear gas into a line of mothers who linked arms and demanded that federal officers be removed from Portland
Saturday's protest kicked off with police spraying tear gas into a line of mothers who linked arms and demanded that federal officers be removed from Portland 
Oregon politicians have blasted the arrival of federal agents (center), who are not required to follow the same policing restrictions as local authorities and can use methods like tear gas
Oregon politicians have blasted the arrival of federal agents (center), who are not required to follow the same policing restrictions as local authorities and can use methods like tear gas
As the video of David gained traction on the internet, Trump weighed in on Portland's protests in a tweet on Sunday morning. 
'We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action,' the president said.
'We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!' 
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler hit back at Trump hours later and repeated his call to have federal troops removed from the city. 
'The president has a complete misunderstanding of cause and effect,' Wheeler told CNN. 'What's happening here is, we have dozens, if not hundreds of federal troops descending upon our city. And what they're doing is, they are sharply escalating the situation. 
'Their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism. And it's not helping the situation at all. They're not wanted here. We haven't asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave.' 
Trump weighed in on Portland's protests in a tweet on Sunday morning as the video of David getting attacked spread like wildfire on social media
Trump weighed in on Portland's protests in a tweet on Sunday morning as the video of David getting attacked spread like wildfire on social media 
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler hit back at Trump in a CNN interview on Sunday and repeated his call to have federal troops removed from the city
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler hit back at Trump in a CNN interview on Sunday and repeated his call to have federal troops removed from the city
Top Homeland Security officials on Monday said they had no intention of pulling back in Portland and defended the federal crackdown on anti-racism protests, including the use of unmarked cars and unidentified officers in camouflage.
Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, told CNN the officers involved in the David incident were from the US Federal Marshals Service.
Cuccinelli said he had seen the video but had not heard the audio or seen reports from officers involved in the event. He did not comment further.
Portland Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the incident. 

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