Portland, Oregon, will pay a $100,000 settlement to Dmitri Stoyanoff, who was in a struggle with police over a sign he was holding during a September 2020 protest.
The City Council unanimously approved the money to Stoyanoff, 40, of Vancouver, Washington, who sued the police, saying he was arrested on September 28, 2020, due to his refusal to hand over a “Vote Register Here” sign he held in a protest in Portland’s Kenton Park supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive.
The sign Stoyanoff was holding was on a lightweight three-quarter-inch PVC pipe and was made out of cardboard and paper, according to his lawsuit, The Oregonian/OregonLive also reported.
Stoyanoff said police attempted to take his sign “for no legal reason.” When he tried to hold on to it, Stoyanoff said he was pepper sprayed, thrown to the ground, kicked and handcuffed.
Stoyanoff was accused of interfering with police, a charge that was dropped at his initial arraignment, court records show.
City attorneys argued that police acted within the law when taking action to prevent a civil commotion and that any harm inflicted on Stoyanoff was due to his “own actions or inactions or was otherwise a result of his failure to mitigate damages,” wrote deputy city attorney Mallory R. Beebe in a court response, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive.
In a separate case, U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez ruled that Portland police violated his order limiting the use of less-lethal impact munitions at a protest on June 30, 2020, which included a protester who refused to hand over an “Abolish the Police” banner framed with PVC pipe. That incident resulted in the protester being shot five times from a police FN303 less-lethal launcher, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
The settlement is the latest in a string of payouts—totaling at least $335,000 this year—stemming from police actions during protests dating back to 2016.
“(Last year) exposed a lot for us about the systems that we as a council and as a community needed to change,” Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said during a city council meeting.
City attorneys initially responded to the lawsuit, saying the officers were authorized to temporarily seize the pole from Stoyanoff’s sign for safekeeping, citing it as a dangerous and deadly weapon. They argued the police acted lawfully in responding to or attempting to prevent a civil commotion or riot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.