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OREGON STATE TROOPER SUSPENDS FIRST AMENDMENT

 

Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
by NWVs investigative reporter Jim Kouri
January 16, 2007
© 2007 NewsWithViews.com

PORTLAND, OR. --An Oregon man says he and his family were accosted and harassed by an Oregon State trooper while exercising their constitutional right to protest the war on a public sidewalk in Portland on December 9, 2006.

David Brownlow, 49, who serves as the vice chairman of the Constitution Party of Oregon, filed a $1 million federal civil rights lawsuit against Senior Trooper Ken Moore for violating his right to freedom of expression under the United States Constitution pursuant to 42 USC 1983.

According to Brownlow, who worked on the Mary Starrett for Governor campaign in the 2006 election cycle, he was standing on the sidewalk, with his wife and 12-year old daughter, adjacent to a Portland mall, peacefully holding up a sign that read "SUPPORT OUR TROOPS -- BRING THEM HOME!" Brownlow's son, Jared, is currently serving with the US Army in Baghdad making this a personal as well as political action.

While they displayed their sign to passing motorists, Trooper Ken Moore saw the family, sped up to the scene, and stopped in the street in front of the small sidewalk demonstration, according to Brownlow.

"The visibly agitated trooper then got out of his patrol vehicle and began shouting at us claiming that we were 'breaking the law,' and demanded that we put away the sign and 'leave the area immediately,'" Brownlow said.

During the confrontation, Brownlow said he was shocked when the angry trooper threatened to arrest him.

"My wife, Suzanne, and I were peaceably exercising our constitutional right of free speech and assembly during an Iraqi war demonstration, and here I was being threatened with imprisonment by a police officer obviously angry about my position on the Iraq war," explained Brownlow.

Surprisingly, said Brownlow, when he asked what law was being broken by him and his family, Trooper Moore replied, "When a trooper tells you that you are breaking the law, that is all you need to know."

Mr. Brownlow, a savvy political activist, demanded to know what law or ordinance was being broken at which point Trooper Moore jumped over the traffic barrier onto the sidewalk and shouted directly into Mr. Brownlow's face that, "It was enough to be told the law was being broken, and that if you did not move immediately, you will be arrested."

Brownlow described how his child, by now quite terrified, moved from standing between her parents to hide behind her mother.

According to Mr. Brownlow, his wife then said to Senior Trooper Moore, "We're not blocking the road, nor are we blocking the sidewalk."

This caused the officer to point a finger at her in front of her child shouting, "If you do not stop talking, I will arrest both of you for disorderly conduct!"

Brownlow also described how the angry trooper grabbed the banner out of his and his family's hands, folded it up and then threw it into his patrol vehicle.

When the trooper returned, according to Brownlow, he was still shouting at the family and at that point Brownlow turned around with his hands behind his back and said to the trooper, "Go ahead and arrest me. I won't resist."

"Instead of cuffs, Trooper Moore demanded that I produce my driver's license. When I did, the trooper went back to his patrol truck and demanded we meet him inside the Clackamas Mall parking lot," said Brownlow.

"While in the parking lot, Trooper Moore demanded to know if I was armed. I told him that [while I possess a Concealed Handgun Permit] I was not armed at that time and lifted my coat to show him," he said.

Trooper Moore demanded to know if Mr. Brownlow had been armed earlier, but Mr. Brownlow refused to answer.

"Trooper Moore, still very agitated, threatened that if he arrested me, I would lose my Concealed Handgun License. I continued to challenge the trooper to arrest me, but no arrest was made."

The Brownlows told Trooper Moore that they were demonstrating in part to speak out on behalf of their Army son who is fighting in Iraq. Mr. Brownlow informed the trooper that he was completely wrong about the First Amendment -- something their son was supposedly fighting to protect.

As vice chairman of the Constitution Party of Oregon, as well as a former federal congressional candidate, Brownlow said he has spent considerable time researching the US Constitution.

"I am confident that no laws were broken."

When Mrs. Brownlow asked the trooper where her family would be allowed to protest the war, the trooper answered, "In your own front yard."

Then something surprising occurred, according to Mr. Brownlow: "After this exchange, the demeanor of Trooper Moore changed considerably. Trooper Moore apologized for his behavior, and for scaring my 12-year-old daughter. He returned the banner upon request." “In fact, I was even more worried when the trooper’s demeanor suddenly changed. I wondered if this trooper was bipolar or something,” he said.

Brownlow then requested permission to leave, which was granted. As they were leaving, Mr. Brownlow informed Trooper Moore that there were going to be consequences for the trooper's outrageous behavior, and that the matter was far from over.

NewsWithViews.com contacted the Oregon State Police to interview Moore’s supervisor Sergeant Christopher Allori, but we were told Sgt. Allori was unavailable until January 22.

With regard to the complaint against Trooper Moore, NewsWithViews.com was told the matter was being investigated by the department’s Internal Affairs investigators and there would be no comments until the conclusion of the IA investigation.

“Don’t expect too much from this investigation,” said former New York City police detective Sid Francis.

“Since there’s a federal civil rights lawsuit involved now, they may decide to protect the trooper if only to protect the department and not give the plaintiff (Brownlow) more ammunition for his case,” said Francis, a 25-year veteran of the NYPD.

David Brownlow says he’s quite confident the courts will decide in his favor.

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And what will the Brownlow family do with the money they win in the lawsuit?

"Any award monies will be used exclusively to fund our new anti war organization, Believers Against the War -- an anti war group focused on reaching out to evangelicals."

To contact the Oregon State Police regarding this article or any other matter, Call (503) 731-3020.

Media:
To set up an interview with David Brownlow, write to him at:
E-Mail: dave@lifesupportoregon.org
or, visit his
Web-Site: www.lifesupportoregon.org


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Surprisingly, said Brownlow, when he asked what law was being broken by him and his family, Trooper Moore replied, "When a trooper tells you that you are breaking the law, that is all you need to know."