Citing impostors, feds urge lifting of court order protecting journalists amid Portland protests

Federal officials responding to the long-running protests in Portland are asking that a court order protecting journalists be lifted on the grounds that some of those engaged in violence are masquerading as members of the press.

Justice Department lawyers leveled the claims of misconduct by purported journalists in filings submitted Thursday to U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon, who issued a temporary restraining order last week forbidding federal authorities from targeting the press.

“Individuals are abusing the TRO to masquerade as members of the press and evade lawful orders, or actively participating in protest activities and even illegal acts while holding themselves out to be members of the press under the protection of the TRO,” Justice Department lawyers wrote. “Even individuals who are not expressly taking advantage of the TRO are often within crowds of protesters or between officers and active protesters making it incredibly difficult and dangerous to observe the restrictions while implementing crowd control measures.”

“Savvy protesters abuse the TRO to evade lawful orders, impede law enforcement, and perpetrate crimes. The TRO has become ‘an instrument of wrong,’ and must be dissolved,” DOJ attorneys argued.

The federal submission includes seven declarations from senior officials and front-line officers about alleged instances of people wearing “press” patches or badges assaulting officers, interfering with them, damaging the perimeter fence or trying to scale it.