As a U.S. Navy veteran, Chris David, 53, said he thought he would be able to talk plainly with federal agents in Portland and ask them why they were using unmarked cars to snatch residents off the street during recent protests in the city.
“I put on my Naval Academy sweatshirt and my Navy wrestling hat,” said David. “I was hoping some of them were veterans and that them seeing me as a veteran would allow us to talk.”
“I was going to ask why they weren’t living up to their oath of office, the Constitution,” David explained. ” All I wanted to do was ask them why?”
When he walked up to the federal officers outside the federal courthouse in Portland on Saturday night, he said one of the officers beat him with a baton, breaking his hand in two places.
“I was hoping they wouldn’t shoot me because one had a weapon pointing it right at my chest, ” said David. “I’m relieved that I only got hit by batons and pepper spray.”
A second officer sprayed him with a chemical irritant, David said.
A video that captured his beating now has over 12.5 million views.
Federal police strike protester with baton, use pepper spray and tear gas outside courthouse in Portland pic.twitter.com/VX2xTVaaYq
— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) July 19, 2020
When asked how he was able to not react during the beating, David said he knew if he acted it would escalate the situation.
“The baton hits weren’t the issue but when they used pepper spray it was over; it felt like they dumped a gallon of burning gasoline on my head.”
“They were just almost like a gang with sticks."
Chris David, 53, has a broken hand and needs surgery after a federal officer beat him with a baton and another pepper sprayed him during Saturday's protest in downtown Portland.https://t.co/uSVh3PCEKL pic.twitter.com/W28cJGg6Yi
— Brian Kosciesza (@BrianKosh) July 21, 2020
“They were just almost like a gang with sticks,” David said.
“I was not doing anything provocative or aggressive. I was just standing there with my arms by my side. That’s all I was doing,” he explained.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi, David said: “That’s exactly what I wanted to do, was just talk to them and the thing that was so upsetting was that there didn’t seem to be any recognition that as a veteran I was even going to be listened to or treated any differently than anybody else — and that sort of makes sense because if they’re going to gas moms, they’re going to beat up vets.”