‘Afraid for my life’: Portland protesters testify before Congress

Washington-DC

Navy veteran Christopher David and protester Mark Pettibone shared their experiences in a virtual roundtable

WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Two Portland protesters, one a Navy veteran beaten by federal officers and the other forced into an unmarked van by agents in military fatigues, testified before members of Congress Tuesday about their experiences.

The virtual roundtable — called “The Bill of Rights in the Balance: The Deployment of Federal Troops Against the American People” — featured Christopher David and Mark Pettibone.

The latter talked about a night of protesting in Portland that he said took a turn for the terrifying last month.

“An unmarked dark colored mini bus pulled up directly in front of us,” Pettibone recalled. “And four or five people wearing military fatigues jumped out in front of us. I was shocked and afraid for my life.”

Pettibone told members of Congress he was forced into the van and someone pulled his arms over his head and his beanie over his eyes.

“They didn’t tell me who they were with or why I was being detained,” he said.

David — a Navy veteran and Portland resident — said incidents like what Pettibone experienced motivated him to join the protests.

“I was shocked and appalled — if the U.S. government could do this to our fellow citizens, where would it end? Anybody can buy surplus military uniforms and rent a minivan,” David said.

Video widely shared online shows David being beaten and pepper-sprayed by federal agents during a protest in Portland in late July. He was left in need of surgery for a broken hand. He said he was protesting peacefully.

A Navy veteran named Chris David (backpack sweatshirt) is beaten and peppers-sprayed by federal officers in downtown Portland, July 18, 2020 (Screen grabs from tweet by Zane Sparling of the Portland Tribune)

“Other officers sprayed a chemical irritant into my face from a very short range. Blinded and with a broken hand, I offered the officers a farewell salute,” he recalled.

In another hearing on Capitol Hill, Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli said federal officers in Portland simply defended themselves and federal property.

“These rioters have assaulted federal property, federal officers, local law enforcement personal and facitilites with hammers, lasers, baseball bats, fireworks, Malotov cocktails,” Cuccinelli testified.

DHS argued that its officers do identify themselves to everyone taken into custody.

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