At least 12 people arrested during protests against police brutality in Portland, Oregon, in recent weeks were specifically barred by federal authorities from attending other demonstrations while they await trial as a condition for their release, ProPublica reports. For some, the restriction extended to the entire state of Oregon, others just Portland, and in at least two cases there was no geographic distinction.
"Those terms were given to me after being in a holding cell after 14 hours," Bailey Dreibelbis, who was charged last week with "failing to obey a lawful order," told ProPublica. "It was pretty cut-and-dried, just, 'These are your conditions for [getting out] of here.'"
Legal experts are questioning the constitutionality of the condition, which applies mostly to people who were arrested for minor crimes, like being on a federal sidewalk. On one hand, it's standard to issue "stay away" orders from a place where a potential crime was committed, Somil Trivedi of the American Civil Liberties Union, told ProPublica. It becomes a little bit trickier when that place is part of the public square, but Trivedi conceded the government probably has an argument when it comes to a specific location.
Trivedi does not think the argument holds up when the condition extends to a blanket ban on protests, however. Perhaps, he said, the government could say they don't trust an individual to not break the law again, but the release documents stipulate that separately. "If they want to say 'don't break a law again,' they've already said that," Trivedi said. "Beyond that, the only part that's left would be not letting you exercise your First Amendment right." Read more at ProPublica.