UPDATE: I spoke with a sergeant from the Portland Police department today. I will post a longer update on the story soon, with notes from our conversation. The short version: yes, they do have a long history of posting mugshots in cases of high public and media interest, online. They're not only doing this with Occupy arrests. And Occupy arrests are of high media and public interest. The PD's news releases (some of which are lists of arrests, with photos) are all auto-posted to Twitter and Facebook now and not just to the PD's website. Apart from that, I do think it's fair to say that the prevailing character of their response to the local Occupy has been respectful and mellow compared to other cities (Oakland, yes, I'm looking at you). I told the sergeant that some BB readers had written in from Portland to say they are proud of the lack of tear gas or rubber bullets. "So are we," he replied.
As inadvisable police tactics around Occupy Wall Street go, this feels like it's right up there with tear gassing people in wheelchairs: The Portland, Oregon police department is posting mugshots to Facebook of people arrested at Occupy Portland.
@newyorkist has been dogging them about it on Twitter, and the Portland Police replied publicly via Twitter and Facebook that they do this with any "arrests in cases of a significant public or media interest," as part of the department's "efforts to be continually transparent."
Is that a violation of the arrestees' civil rights? Some of the demonstrators arrested were minors (and I am not sure if their photos were among the ones published). How does the fact that they are not adults change this story? Remember, these people aren't convicted pedophiles, they're just participants in a peaceful protest who were arrested, and haven't yet seen their day in court.
There is some precedent to police departments posting mugshots on a police department website, but the fact that it's Facebook just feels weird. As BB reader Bryan Coffelt tweeted, "I feel like the next step would be for the PDX PD to start 'poking' the arrestees or inviting them to play FarmVille."
Below, a response to the practice by Joey B'Shalom of Portland, identified as a US Air Force veteran "Airman of the Year" whose son Benji and daughter Hannah were arrested there.
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