Navy Veteran Beaten With Baton, Pepper Sprayed by Portland Federal Agents

The man seen being beaten with a baton and doused with pepper spray in a viral video captured during the Portland protests is a disabled Navy veteran, it has emerged.

Christopher David, 53, was seen taking numerous blows from a federal officer with a baton in a video shared on Twitter by a reporter with The Portland Tribune.

The clip, which has since amassed more than nine million views, shows David—wearing a shirt that says "Navy"—walking away shortly after being doused with pepper spray.

David, a Portland resident, is a former Navy civil engineering corps officer who graduated from the U.S. naval Academy in 1988, according to The New York Times.

He told the newspaper that he went to the protests for the first time over the weekend after seeing videos of unidentified federal agents putting protesters in unmarked vans in Portland.

Nightly protests have occurred in Portland since the death of George Floyd, a Black man, while in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. The unrest prompted the Trump administration to enlist federal agents from a number of agencies to protect federal property in the city.

Last week, reports said some agents had been driving around in unmarked vans and grabbing protesters who weren't near federal property, without identifying themselves—prompting Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to sue Homeland Security and the Marshals Service in federal court to "immediately stop federal authorities from unlawfully detaining Oregonians."

"I wasn't even paying attention to the protests at all until the feds came in," David said.

He said federal officers had emerged from the city's courthouse and started advancing towards protesters on Saturday night.

David said he asked them why they were violating their oath to the Constitution. "Were any of you enlisted? Why are you not keeping your oath of office?" David told The Independent he had shouted at the officers.

He didn't get an answer. Instead, a federal officer in camouflage beat him with a baton while he stood still and didn't react.

"I stood my ground at that point and just stayed there... I did nothing provocative. They just started whaling on me with batons, and I let them," he said.

He was ultimately forced to retreat after he was pepper sprayed in the face and the clip ends as he is walking away.

But his resolve led to many on social media dubbing him "Captain Portland."

"That guy is a brick. And wow. Can't believe that is how someone harmless-looking is treated," one Twitter user wrote.

David said on Twitter that a street medic named Tav helped get him to safety when he was left unable to see because of the pepper spray.

Tav and some friends then helped David get an ambulance to hospital.

In another tweet, David said he would need surgery on his hand. "My hand is pretty damaged. The hand surgeon splinted it for now, but it looks like plates, screws and/or pins await me on Friday," he wrote.

But what happened won't stop him from protesting, he said.

He wrote in another tweet: "I plan to go back. This won't stop me."

David and the U.S. Navy have been contacted for additional comment.

Portland
Federal officers use tear gas and other crowd dispersal munitions on protesters outside the Multnomah County Justice Center on July 17, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Mason Trinca/Getty Images