Prof. Laura Appleman comments in story on so-called Portland “copwatchers”

by Sarah Carlson,

  • Law Prof. Laura Appleman was quoted in an Oregonian story November 11.
    Law Prof. Laura Appleman was quoted in an Oregonian story November 11.

The Oregonian quoted Prof. Laura Appleman in a weekend article about two men who were prosecuted for what they say was retaliation for visiting the homes of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, the city’s police chief and the district attorney for Multnomah County.

While it isn’t illegal for the men to visit most people’s private homes, the visits weren’t wanted, prosecutors said. The two men, Robert Lee West, 51, and Eli Franklin Richey, 37, weren’t charged for going to the homes. Instead, they were charged with crimes committed at a Portland Grocery Outlet store and entered plea deals resulting in second-degree criminal trespass convictions.

At the Grocery Outlet, the two recorded a shoplifting incident and would not leave when asked. In addition, prosecutors said West threatened to record the responding officers’ children at their schools. West and Richey said the whole ordeal is an attempt to suppress their free speech. The two said they visited the public officials’ homes to protest corruption and ask questions that hadn’t been answered at their offices. West has dubbed himself a “copwatcher.”

Appleman, a professor of criminal law, said that kind of activism comes with the officials’ jobs. She previously lived in New York, where the practice is common.

“Let me tell you, the police commissioner and the mayor are stalked wherever they go,” she said.

That doesn’t mean she agrees with the unannounced visits, she said.

According to the article, the uptick in visits to the homes of public officials as a form of protest seems to be a trend. While Richey said he will stop going to people’s homes, West said he doesn’t plan to.

Read the full story.

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