May 22, 2024

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From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Medic: Springfield Police acted like goon squad

4 min read
A member of Street Medics Eugene says members of the Springfield Police Department 'acted like a goon squad out for blood to silence and hurt people standing up for their rights.'

DJ Suss D: Comments were submitted to the August Springfield, Oregon Police Advisory Committee meeting regarding the conduct of the Springfield Police Department during the recent ‘Night of Rage’ protest for abortion rights at the Dove Medical Center.

An online flyer for the protest calls Dove ‘our local fake women’s health clinic’ and proclaims, ‘If abortions aren’t safe, then they aren’t either.’

Dove was boarded up in anticipation of the protest.

[00:00:28] Springfield: It looks we’d like we have a couple people that would like to speak tonight. The first one I see is Jay Smith.

[00:00:38] Jay Smith: Hi, my name is Jay Smith. I’m reading a comment for Amanda Becker Henske who can’t be here today. These are her words:

[00:00:49] ‘I have been a registered voter in Lane County since I moved here since 2015. I have been in the medical field for 20 years. I have volunteered for medic outreach for 10 years, both in Oregon and California.

[00:01:02] ‘I’m a lead medic for Street Medics Eugene, a group of volunteers from Lane County that do outreach with houseless, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA events and direct actions. When Roe v Wade was overturned, there was a call out for direct action support. Being that this is my direct community, I geared up with my eyewash canister and medic pack and went to Dove Medical.

[00:01:24] ‘I was clearly a medic and stayed back from the protestors. I followed all EPD orders and even directed traffic to keep the flow of traffic going without EPD’s help or assistance.

[00:01:35] ‘When there was a male-presenting person armed with an AR, EPD did nothing to secure the person for the safety of the unarmed crowd. In fact, they stated they were more worried about the unarmed crowd than the man with a loaded gun.

[00:01:48] ‘When SPD showed up, the tension rose for everyone. EPD demanded everyone get to the sidewalk. I was already there, as were most of my comrades. And SPD began a force line towards Dove Medical. I stayed on the sidewalk as per EPD’s orders.

[00:02:04] ‘I was brutalized with the end of a baton by Officer (Brian) Bragg. He struck me three times with the end of his baton in my chest because I was on the sidewalk. He broke my eyewash canister when he kicked it repeatedly into another person behind me. They continued to brutalize protestors with no provoking and just acted like a goon squad out for blood to silence and hurt people standing up for their rights.

[00:02:25] ‘Another medic was shot at point blank with less than lethal ammunition in the stomach and had huge welts and abdominal pain for weeks after.

[00:02:32] ‘I ask the board to reexamine the funding for SPD and EPD, as they, like all police, are abusing the public and causing more damage to people. Defund police, fund houseless outreach and mental health instead. Thank you.’

[00:02:44] Springfield: Thank you for your comments. Okay. And we have one more person that would like to speak, Elizabeth Utterback. Elizabeth?

[00:02:53] Lizzy Utterback: Thank you. This is Lizzy Utterback from Ward Three. This past week, the Black Unity activists have been in my heart as we pass the two-year anniversary of the Thurston Protest for Black Lives. That protest ended in police brutality, violence, and racism at the hands of both SPD and local white supremacists, who were shown on tape to be working together.

[00:03:14] You may think, ‘Things have changed because we have a new police chief now!’ I understand that feeling and I was hopeful too, but we’re all very wrong. Evidence of this came in late June at a peaceful protest I attended in Eugene following the Supreme Court’s decision.

[00:03:30] I want to tell you what happened to me. After a few hours of peaceful protest, SPD showed up walking down 11th street in combat formation wearing full riot gear. SPD immediately engaged in acts of brutality and violence while completely ignoring a counterprotestor who was armed with an assault weapon.

[00:03:47] While standing on the sidewalk Officer (Allan) Amundson yelled at me to ‘Get back!’ despite EPD’s verbal instructions on the LRAD telling us to remain on the sidewalk.

[00:03:56] While he was yelling at me, I kept thinking about two years ago, when he beat up Tyshawn (Ford) and punched a mother directly in the face. If I followed his instructions and stepped back, I’d be in the street and risk arrest. If I didn’t move, I risk being battered by him, given his menacing baton use.

[00:04:13] Then there’s Officer (Brian) Bragg, who you heard. He was captured on video that night beating up a medic while her hands were in the air. Protestors experienced significant injuries at the hands of SPD officers that night. Why the decision to send these known violent officers is beyond me.

[00:04:29] Lt. (George) Crolly, is there an internal use of force investigation being conducted regarding SPD’s violent behavior at this protest? And have the recommendations from Rick Braziel, which cost the city about $30,000, already been implemented?

[00:04:44] To the rest of the committee, best wishes with your ambassador outreach efforts. Without immediate significant improvements, you sure have your work cut out for you.

[00:04:55] Springfield: Thank you for your comments. Okay. Next is committee response and I invite committee members to share their response. I hear no response at this time.

[00:05:08] DJ Suss D: Presumably the Springfield Police Advisory Committee did not comment because during the same meeting, they consulted a lawyer about how to properly engage with the public.

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