An attorney who participated in a “Wall of Moms” protest against overly-militarized federal agents has launched a lawsuit against the United States government, claiming she was subjected to excessive force and then arrested without cause.
The Associated Press reports that the lawsuit was filed by Jennifer Kristiansen.
Lodged in federal court in Portland, Oregon, Kristiansen’s complaint alleges that she was also sexually assaulted by a government official. Kristiansen recounts how, in the course of her arrest, a federal agent pinned her against a wall, then groped her breasts and buttocks.
The encounter was so jarring, Kristiansen, that she feared she might be raped by the officer.
The lawsuit names as defendants:
- Gabriel Russel, the regional director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service
- Several Department of Homeland Security supervisors
- At least 29 ground-level agents, who are not individually named because they were not wearing badges or other identification during the “Wall of Moms” protests
The Associated Press recounts Kristiansen’s claims.
In her complaint, Kristiansen says she was walking with about 100 other Wall of Moms protesters in Portland.
It was the third night of the Wall of Moms protests, in which mothers locked their arms and stood in a wall-like formation, protesting police brutality and showing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
After reaching the federal courthouse in Portland, Kristiansen says that unidentified federal officers began disbursing red “chemical agents” into the crowd, along with stun grenades.
Federal agents then began advancing on the protesters will billy clubs. One agent then confronted Kristiansen and accused her—a 5’0”, 100-pound woman—of hitting or attempting to hit him.
“After ascending the courthouse steps but prior to entering its doors, Defendant John Doe 63 violated Ms. Kristiansen by forcing her face first against the courthouse wall,” the lawsuit states. “Ms. Kristiansen was placed in fear for her safety and believed she would be raped when Defendant John Doe 63 molested her while blocking her vision and trapping her against the wall, using his left hand to grab her breast and his right hand to reach up her skirt and grab her buttocks.”
Kristiansen was then taking to a holding facility, where she was denied food and water.
Kristiansen was held for a night and most of the following day before being charged with assaulting a federal officer.
A later review of video footage substantiated Kristiansen’s claims that she had not laid hands on any of the crowd-control officers; a federal judge agreed with her argument and dismissed all claims against her.
The lawsuit, notes The Associated Press, now seeks punitive damages of an unspecified amount.