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Lewis & Clark Law Student Legal Observers Attend Portland Protests

October 20, 2020

Lewis & Clark law students were highlighted In the October 2020 issue of Multnomah Lawyer for their work as Legal Observers (LO) during the protests that have been happening every night since May 25 in downtown Portland.

“During every one of those nights [of protests], Legal Observers from the Lewis & Clark student chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) have been present to document police interactions with, and arrests of, protesters,” stated Carra Sahler, former Director of Public Interest Law at Lewis & Clark Law School, who authored the article.

Sahler’s news story discusses the risks the law students take, both emotionally and physically, by attending and observing at the protests. The article also discusses the role of a Legal Observer and the students’ personal experiences at the protests.

“It is important to know just how brutal the conditions are,” stated one of the students in the article. “LOs have been shot in the chest or head by impact munitions, when they are behaving completely lawfully and following the guidelines set out by the temporary restraining order (TRO).” The TRO, adopted by Judge Michael Simon in July and extended in August in Index Newspapers LLC v. City of Portland, stated (among other things) that LOs were not required to leave after an order to disperse was given and were not subject to arrest for failing to disperse. Per the TRO, LOs were required to wear an authorized LO vest or hat to identify themselves as an LO.

Despite the risks, the article explains, students remain motivated to continue being Legal Observers at these protests. “Police don’t police themselves, so it is important to capture interactions if evidence is needed later,” stated a student in the article. “I am there to make sure protesters’ constitutional rights are being protected,” stated another student.

Click here to read the full article published in The Multnomah Lawyer’s October 2020 Pro Bono issue.

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