Portland History Professor Says She Was Shot in the Head by Federal Agents

A Portland history professor said she was shot in the head with an impact munition fired by a federal agent while she was peacefully protesting.

Maureen Healy, the chair of the History Department at Lewis & Clark College, said in a statement provided to Newsweek that she had joined a Black Lives Matter march on July 20 "to express my opinion as a citizen of the United States, and as a resident of Portland."

Healy, 52, said she had been in a large crowd of "ordinary folks"—comprised of adults, teens, students, moms and dads—and "was not damaging federal property" when tear gas was deployed and an impact munition hit her in the head.

"This is my home. I was protesting peacefully. So why did federal troops shoot me in the head?" Healy said.

"I was not damaging federal property. I was in a crowd with at least a thousand other ordinary people. I was standing in a public space," she added.

Last night my friend, chair of History Dpt. @lewisandclark, was shot in the head by Trump's goons. If you know Mo, you know she is the most peaceful protestor one can imagine. As an act of solidarity, I ask that all of you who have stayed home to get out on the street tonight. pic.twitter.com/TXfiCzzfZA

— Elliott Young (@elliottyoungpdx) July 21, 2020

Healy said after she was hit, she was helped by volunteer medics, who bandaged her had and drove her to safety. Her family then took her to hospital.

"It dawned on me when I was in the ER, and had a chance to catch my breath (post tear gas): my government did this to me. My own government," she added.

"I was not shot by a random person in the street. A federal law enforcement officer pulled a trigger that sent an impact munition into my head."

Elliot Young, another history professor at Lewis & Clark College, shared a picture of Healy's head injury on Twitter, adding that Healy is "the most peaceful protestor one can imagine."

This week, a lawsuit was filed against the Trump administration on behalf of protesters, saying federal agents were indiscriminately firing tear gas, rubber bullets and other less-lethal munitions at peaceful protesters.

The complaint said federal agents have also made unlawful arrests without probable cause and otherwise "used violence in an effort to stamp out peaceful and constitutionally protected protests."

Mo and Avery, along with a thousand others, were at the protest in downtown Portland last night. At about 12:30 AM,...

Posted by Will Pritchard on Tuesday, July 21, 2020

In her statement, Healy also warned that the U.S. was moving towards the kind of authoritarian rule and fascism she teaches her history students about.

"In addition to being a Portland resident, I am also a historian," she said. "My field is Modern European History, with specialization in the history of Germany and Eastern Europe. I teach my students about the rise of fascism in Europe.

"By professional training and long years of teaching, I am knowledgeable about the historical slide by which seemingly vibrant democracies succumbed to authoritarian rule. Militarized federal troops are shooting indiscriminately into crowds of ordinary people in our country. We are on that slide."

Healy added that she would continue to attend protests that have taken place in Portland for more than two months since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis custody in May.

"I wanted to, and will continue to, exercise my First Amendment right to speak. Federal troops have been sent to my city to extinguish these peaceful protests," she added.

She said that the focus must return to the Black Lives Matter movement, adding that what happened to her was "nothing" compared to what Black people have to endure at the hands of law enforcement.

"We must take this back to Black Lives Matter," she said. "Police brutality against Black people is the real subject of these peaceful protests that have been happening in my city and across the country.

"What happened to me is nothing. It is nothing compared to what happens to Black citizens at the hands of law enforcement, mostly local police, every day. And that is why we have been marching. That is why I will continue to march."

A spokesperson for Lewis & Clark College told Newsweek that it is calling on Congress to investigate the use of force by federal authorities.

In a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, the college's president Wim Wiewel said: "Many in our community are deeply distressed by the actions of these federal officers, as well as by the actions of local law enforcement.

"But the impetus of this letter is the experience of one member of our community, Associate Professor of History and Department Chair Maureen 'Mo' Healy."

Wiewel wrote that Healy was "shot in the head by a 'rubber bullet' and had to be taken to hospital."

"Thankfully, she is recovering. But the injury should never have happened. So much of the brutality of the response should never have happened."

This article has been updated with information from Lewis & Clark College.

People gather in protest in front of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in downtown Portland on July 28, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Spencer Platt/Getty Images