Two years ago, federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) escalated violence against people in Portland calling for racial justice and an end to police brutality. DHS agents used unprecedented amounts of teargas, pepper spray, and other chemical munitions. Thousands of Portland residents were exposed to these chemical weapons, which contain chemicals that can cause cancer and kidney and liver damage.

350PDX joined a broad coalition of environmental justice and civil rights advocates and filed a legal challenge against DHS, calling out its failure to analyze the potentially severe human health and environmental impacts before deploying chemical munitions, which is required by the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). But in a surprising move, Judge Karen Immergut dismissed this case before any of the facts had come before the court.

We believe that this case deserves its day in court – that we all have the right to know what chemicals DHS poisoned us with as we rallied for Black lives. We have the right to know how these toxins impact our health and our environment over the long term, and to hold DHS accountable.

So 350PDX joined our allies in appealing this dismissal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. On October 7th, the court will hear oral arguments in support of our appeal.

Hear the oral argument for this case – Oct 7th, 9:30am

Hear 350PDX Climate Forest Manager Brenna Bell give the oral argument for this case. Before she became 350PDX’s Climate Forest Manager, Brenna Bell dreamt up and organized this lawsuit. Brenna and the 350PDX Staff are thrilled that she gets to exercise her lawyer muscles as she presents the oral arguments for this appeal. You can watch the oral arguments by tuning in to the livestream on October 7th, at 9:30am. Note, the link is updated each day, so check back on this site  ​​​​​​for the correct link on the day of the argument.

We fear this isn’t the last time protesters will face repression from federal agents and the police. More and more, we will need to take to the streets to protect our communities and stand up for justice and a future worth living. We have seen that the right to protest is a privilege afforded more to some groups than others. While the demonstrators for Black lives withstood some of the most repressive measures in recent history, the Portland climate movement’s marches and strikes have received much gentler treatment by law enforcement, by and large.

We stand in solidarity with those fighting for Black lives and liberation, using the tools of environmental law to protect our right to protest, because climate justice = racial justice.

In solidarity,

350PDX Staff