Navy vet juggernaut takes police beating like a “soap party” veteran


A Southwest Portland man who decided to wander down to watch the protests in the Portland Saturday night is now an international celebrity after being beaten multiple times with a baton wielded by a federal law enforcement officer.

A video taken by Zane Sparling, a reporter with the Portland Tribune, shows Chris David, 53, hit by an officer and then pepper sprayed by another.

It was the first protest he had participated in.

In the 11-second video — viewed more than 7 million times — David stands impassively, seemingly impervious to the attack, before turning, raising his hands and walking away. His legs are bruised, and he needs to check with a doctor because his right hand is injured.

David was home watching television on Saturday, the 52nd straight night of protests in the city, getting angrier by the moment when he learned that unidentified federal officers had been sent to Portland by President Donald Trump to deal with local protestors.

He decided to take the bus downtown to talk with the officers. David, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, wore his Navy sweatshirt and Navy wrestling hat, thinking they’d respect him because of he was a veteran.

“I thought the clothing would be a shield,” he said. “Turns out it had zero effect. They didn’t care.”

He arrived downtown about 7:30 p.m. and listened to people making speeches about racism and problems with the Police Bureau.

The feds, the people he wanted to talk with, were nowhere to be seen.

While wandering around he asked a woman what happens at the protests. She said she’d been to four others but had no idea how it would unfold since federal officers were in town.

At about 10:45 p.m., the night a bust, David was going to take the bus back home.

“Literally at that moment a bunch of guys came out of the courthouse and ran into the street,” said David. “I was in the park and watched these guys body blast the protestors.

“I walked over and stood there in the street” he said. “I wanted to ask them about the oath they took. Everyone was screaming. No one heard me. Then one of the officers hit me hit me and kept hitting me. It didn’t seem like any of them were trained for this.”

David said he is 6-foot-2 and weighs about 280. A former wrestler, he was not intimidated by the officer with the baton.

“The video makes me look even bigger than I am,” he said. “Those officers were small. They seemed scared. They had no tactics, just seemed like a gang.”

David, who said he is a laboratory scientist at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, went home and tended to his hand, planning to call a doctor on Sunday.

But the video went viral and the calls came in, one after another. He has been interviewed by CNN, the Washington Post, the Guardian and NBC.

“I just got off the phone with the New York Times,” he said. “I want to get this out of the way and let my life get back to normal.”

He sighed.

“You’re my last call,” he said. “Good night.”

— Tom Hallman Jr; thallman@oregonian.com; 503-221-8224; @thallmanjr

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