Robert West, a photographer with Film the Police Portland was threatened with arrest and kicked out of City Hall after he inquired about a mayor’s meeting happening inside city hall. The two day meeting was covering multiple topics about homeless, climate change and affordable housing. Involved in the meeting were Mayors from the major west coast cities.
Robert: “Where is the Mayors conference at?”
Attendant: “You have to tell me you are recording me first”
Robert: “I do?”
Attendant: “Yes you do, by state law. Are you recording me?”
Robert: “It’s obvious. Let me ask you this…”
G4S Agent: “I’m not going to tell you that and your not going up there to interfere with it”
According to Mike Bluehair another Film the Police Portland photographer and activist. Robert was interested in the Mayors meeting because, when he CopBlocks downtown he routinely films police interactions with the homeless and disenfranchised.
The man working the information desk tells Robert that he is excluded from the meeting. This really makes no sense because all Robert did was ask a question. When Robert pushed back against the threats of exclusion from city hall, a female officer involved herself in the interaction and threatened to arrest Robert for being uncooperative. Neither asking questions, or being uncooperative is a crime.
Robert: “You can’t exclude me from City Hall for asking questions”
Officer Adams: “He can exclude you from City Hall for being uncooperative and for recording him after he asked you if you were recording and didn’t answer. So if he’s excluding you I’m going to assist with that and I think that you are getting real close to winding up and being in handcuffs”
Another perfect example of a cop who willingly uses their authority to escalate situations, without actually thinking about why, or if it’s even necessary in the first place.
Robert: “For what reason?”
Officer Adams: “He’s asked you too leave and he has that right. Actually he’s gone from asking to ordering you, so you can either play this game or we can wind up taking you outside.
What officer Adams is actually saying here is, comply or be subject to initiatory acts of aggression.
G4S Agent: “Its up to you. It’s reasonable for me to ask you those questions and for you not answering those questions that puts the situation at risk and certain other people at risk because I don’t know what your intentions are.”
Robert: “It puts no one at risk”
Refusing to answer questions regardless of who is asking them is not a crime. It doesn’t matter if you are being asked routine questions by a cop or being interrogated in Guantanamo.
The man in the suit works for G4S, a security firm that provides multiple services from security to disaster planning. Robert brings this up and asks about another incident where Portland photographer and activist Kif Davis was dragged to the ground by a different G4S agent after refusing to turn his camera off.
Ironically the man who assaulted Keith walks around the corner. When Robert tries to talk to him, the guard and the cop block his path and the threats of force escalate.
Robert: “I’m going to talk to him”
Officer Adams: “No you’re not, you’re going to leave.”
G4S Agent: “You need to leave because just playing a stupid little game and it’s not going to work.”
Officer Adams: ” If your goal is to get arrested, I will certainly help you and cooperate with that. But I’m telling you right now I’m done. Leave Now! Turn around and go or I will make you go. It’s that simple and I have no problem doing that so you have a choice. Turn around and go now.”
As Robert is leaving, officer Adams offers her business card and says “If you want to complain about me, here’s my card.”
The G4s guard and the Portland officer provided a perfect example of how non compliance is viewed by the enforcement class as behavior that only criminals or people with ill intent would exhibit. Throughout history some of the greatest defenders of liberty used non compliance as an effective tactic to expose the violence of the state and garner support for their movement.
Dr. Martin Luther King used non violent civil disobedience so effectively that the government had him assassinated. Non Compliance and civil disobedience have been effective globally. Chinese work stoppages and tax resistance have been on the rise in China throughout the 2000’s The ladies in White are wives of political prisoners who used civil disobedience seeking the release of their relatives. They won the European Union’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Hopefully you too understand that not everyone refusing to answer questions or follow the orders of state actors are just trying to score a million hits on a Youtube video or act like an asshole. In reality they are setting an example that not every order must be followed and not every question must be answered. Obviously the choice is yours, but when you are unsure it’s almost always safe to say no. Check out CopBlock.org/resources for information, tips and tactics for interacting with police.
I have provided the contact information as well as social media profiles for both G4S and the Portland police department. If you have a few extra minutes, feel free to let them know that you are disappointed with the actions of their officers.
G4S Portland: 501-291-1005
Portland Police: 503-823-0000