4/6/2023 News Roundup


<< A Battle Ground man who took selfie-style photos with his son during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021 pleaded guilty to a single count of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds.

Jeff Grace, 64, appeared by Zoom for Monday’s plea hearing before Judge Randolph Moss in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 3. Grace could face up to six months in prison for the misdemeanor crime.

Grace’s son, Jeremy Grace, was sentenced to 21 days in prison and supervised release last July.

Court records alleged the father-son duo went to Washington D.C. in January 2021 to attend a rally in support of President Donald Trump.

They traveled and stayed at a hotel with a member of the Proud Boys identified as “Travis” in court documents.

The three men attended a gathering of the Proud Boys from around the country on Jan. 5, prosecutors said in court documents.

On Jan. 6, the father and son from Southwest Washington joined with a large group of Proud Boys at the Washington Monument before walking toward the U.S. Capitol Building, according to federal investigators.

Despite his claims that he came to Washington D.C. to attend a rally for Trump, investigators said Grace never attended the rally that day.

Federal prosecutors have shared photos and video with the court showing both Jeff and Jeremy Grace a few feet behind the front line of protesters who pushed past law enforcement protecting the Capitol.

Images taken from security cameras also show Grace entering the U.S. Capitol Building and then watching another rioter attempt to steal a Congressional lectern.

In a March 2021 interview with KGW, Jeff Grace falsely claimed he didn’t take any photos or videos inside the Capitol Building. He also denied his son, Jeremy entered the federal building.

“He didn’t go into the Capitol,” Jeff Grace told KGW.

Court records proved otherwise. Jeff and Jeremy Grace can be seen posing together in photos and video inside and outside the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection. Federal agents claim both men tried to delete the selfie-style videos.

In one video, prosecutors said the father and son appeared inside the Rotunda. “Just made it into the Capitol here. Oh yeah, oh yeah,” said Jeremy Grace, according to court documents. “It gets no better than this,” Jeff Grace replied.

In August 2021, a federal judge ordered Jeff Grace surrender any guns and weapons while awaiting trial after he showed up armed during what prosecutors described as pre-planned confrontations in both Portland, Oregon and El Paso, Texas.

After his arrest, Jeff Grace posted videos on YouTube and social media complaining the Justice Department treated him unfairly. He also sold shirts online displaying the U.S. Capitol with the phrase “OUR HOUSE” boldly printed on the front.

Several social media accounts associated with Jeff Grace, along with the “Our House USA” website selling merchandise have since been removed.

Nine people from Oregon and Southwest Washington were charged in relation to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Of those, four have pleaded guilty, including Jeff and Jeremy Grace.

A federal judge sentenced Jeffrey Hubbard of Lincoln City to 45 days in prison and three years of probation after pleading guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol Building.

Lilith Saer of Portland, 30, pleaded guilty for her role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. She will be sentenced in federal court on Tuesday.>>


<<A 31-year-old Portland woman who breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced Tuesday to three years of probation and ordered to complete 200 hours of in-person community service within two years.

U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of Washington, D.C., said she was concerned that Lilith Anton Saer didn’t express any “real remorse” for her actions until her sentencing.

Friedrich also said she was disturbed that Saer retweeted others’ messages after the breach that spread false information by suggesting the insurrection didn’t happen, downplayed the rioters’ conduct and implied the FBI was hiding video evidence about the election.

Faheena Siddiqui, Saer’s lawyer, argued Saer wasn’t immediately aware that she or others weren’t allowed in the Capitol that day and promptly exited after she heard someone remark that they’d been told to leave.

“I deeply regret Congress was forced to vacate their chambers. I unfortunately had no idea this had occurred,” said Saer, who appeared by video for the sentencing hearing held in federal court in the District of Columbia. “If this information was available to me at the time, I would have done everything in my power to vacate the premises immediately and encourage others to do the same.”

But the judge said she found it hard to believe Saer had no idea she wasn’t supposed to be in the Capitol, given her review of video that showed Saer’s entrance through the Senate wing doors as alarms were blaring and others were shouting, “Let us in!” about 2:56 p.m. that day.

Saer remained in the Capitol for six minutes, according to the prosecutor and her defense lawyer.

“I cannot accept that she had no idea the Capitol hadn’t been breached or that she had any legal right to be inside,” Friedrich said.

Saer traveled alone to Washington, D.C., from Portland to hear then-President Donald Trump speak at a “Rally to Save America” after learning about the rally from YouTube commentators, according to her lawyer.

She was there to show support for her candidate, Siddiqui said.

Saer then followed a large group of people that marched from the rally to the Capitol and entered the Senate Wing door and walked through the Crypt and Hall of Columns.

“She doesn’t touch anything. She doesn’t vandalize anything,” Siddiqui said.

Saer, now 31, pleaded guilty on Jan. 18 to one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

She was described in court as a self-taught software engineer who attended one year of college. Most recently, she worked remotely for a London-based company, earning $196,000 until she was fired in February, according to her lawyer. She is now unemployed.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolina Nevin said Saer ignored very clear signs that she wasn’t allowed in the Capitol. Nevin had sought fewer hours of community service for Saer but 60 days of home detention.

The judge increased the community service hours because Saer isn’t working but is looking for a job.

“She is going to be forever marked by this,” Siddiqui said. “She is forever tied to the shame of that day.”

Saer is one of more than 999 people arrested in the Capitol breach. Of those about 420 defendants have been sentenced, with about 220 facing time in custody.

She’s among 18 people from Oregon and Washington charged, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Of the 18, two others have been sentenced: Jeremy Grace, 38, who was arrested in Molalla but is from Battle Ground, Wash., and John Cameron arrested in Tacoma. Grace, who was caught on video repeating “Our house” inside the Capitol, was sentenced to 21 days jail, community service and a year of supervised release. Cameron, 55, was sentenced to three years of probation.>>



<<The Portland Police Bureau has been authorized by the city council to purchase and begin using drones in a “limited pilot project,” the PPB announced Wednesday.

The city council approved the year-long project, which PPB said would cost less than $80,000.>>

“I’m pleased PPB will begin this pilot using drones on a limited basis,” said Chief Chuck Lovell. “Drones have proven to drastically reduce personnel time at crash scenes, increase safety and decrease the amount of time the public may be impacted when it comes to situations such as road closures.”

Along with the traffic division, the drones will also be used by the explosive disposal unit and during “tactical events” when requested, police said.

Police said they will not use drones for random or mass surveillance, harassing or intimidating an individual or group, in connection with any facial recognition technology, or for crowd control “unless a life safety critical incident occurs.”>>


<<During Wednesday’s Portland City Council meeting, commissioners unanimously approved the Portland Police Bureau’s request to spend $80,000 in earmarked funds on drone equipment, which it plans to test in the field soon.

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement following the city council’s vote that the drone will improve officer safety and speed up traffic collision investigations times.

“I’m pleased PPB will begin this pilot using drones on a limited basis,” Lovell said. “Drones have proven to drastically reduce personnel time at crash scenes, increase safety and decrease the amount of time the public may be impacted when it comes to situations such as road closures.

During this critical staffing period, PPB continues to look for innovative ways to help us do our jobs more efficiently and effectively.”

As part of a year-long pilot project, PPB says that it will limit its drone use to traffic investigations and its Metro Explosive Disposal Unit.

When addressing the city council last month, Sgt. James Defrain said that officers will be prohibited from using drone technology for crowd control, mass surveillance or for the use of facial-recognition technology, per PPB’s own policies. The drones, Defrain said, will be modified versions of products already available to the public, with “extremely limited” flight times. Police say the drones will also be clearly marked with “City of Portland” or “Portland Police” logos and will be unable to carry items heavier than a cell phone.>>


<<A Portland City Auditor’s office investigation found insufficient evidence that gunshot detection company ShotSpotter violated any city lobbying rules, clearing the way for the city’s pursuit of the technology.

ShotSpotter, a company which makes gunshot detection sensors that identify sounds that could be gunshots and sends alerts about their location to police, has been pursuing a pilot program with the City of Portland for close to a year.

After receiving a complaint, the Portland Auditor’s office reviewed whether ShotSpotter had passed the time or monetary thresholds in its courting of the city that would have required it to register as a lobbying entity.

Investigators found that “while meetings took place that qualified as efforts to influence the actions of City officials,” there was insufficient evidence that ShotSpotter met the hours threshold required to register with the Auditor’s office.

An office spokesperson said many of the meetings between ShotSpotter representatives and city employees did not “qualify as either direct or indirect lobbying.”

“Our office did not find sufficient evidence that the thresholds to require registration as a lobbying entity or quarterly reporting of these meetings has been met,” said Becky Lamboley, interim city elections officer, in a letter to ShotSpotter on April 3.

Private companies are required to register as lobbying entities if they’ve spent 8 cumulative hours or at least $1,000 during any calendar quarter lobbying.

The closure of the investigation may restart the City of Portland’s review of gunshot detection technology proposals.

Wheeler initially greenlit a pilot program with ShotSpotter before the city backtracked on those plans to request proposals from competing companies.

The city received four proposals in response to a gunshot detection RFP in February. That RFP initially called for a series of public hearings and decisions from city leaders to start in February, with the potential installation of a gunshot detection pilot program on April 1. However, those hearings have yet to be held.

Cody Bowman, a spokesperson for Wheeler’s office, said Tuesday that the process would restart soon.>>


<<Portland police plan to start using drones in a yearlong pilot to document crash scenes, watch traffic, respond to bomb threats, help in searches and respond to disasters like building collapses.

The project is expected to begin in about 60 days and cost under $80,000, police said in an announcement Wednesday. They will be marked with city and police logos.

“During this critical staffing period, PPB continues to look for innovative ways to help us do our jobs more efficiently and effectively,” Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement.

The Portland City Council authorized use of the drones.

They cannot be used for mass surveillance, facial recognition, harassing people and managing crowds under Oregon statutes governing aircraft operation rules.

The bureau’s Traffic Division and Metro Explosive Disposal Unit will operate the drones, police said.

About 5,000 public safety agencies in the country use drones, according to Drone Responders, a nonprofit that aims to introduce first responders to the devices.

Nearly every law enforcement agency within the Portland metro area uses drones, police said, as do other departments across the state.

Oregon State Police started a drone pilot program in 2018 and currently use the technology to help police departments throughout the state locate suspects. On March 25, for instance, state police deployed a drone to help Portland police pursue a homicide suspect, according to state records.>>



<<A billboard criticizing Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt went up Tuesday morning in downtown Portland.

The billboard, located at 2nd and Washington Street, reads “PORTLAND IS A SCHMIDT SHOW” next to a large picture of Schmidt. It includes more text that reads “record crime (check mark),” “fewer prosecutions (check mark),” “empty jail beds (check mark).”

The billboard says it was paid for by People for Portland. The organization has been increasingly visible in recent months with YouTube, print and digital ad buys.

The People for Portland is a self described “platform and voice for Portlanders to take action to rescue our broken city.”

Schmidt won election to the office in May 2020 with about 75% of the vote on a platform of ending mass incarceration and holding law enforcement accountable.

City officials including Schmidt have blamed the violence in Portland on dwindling police ranks and a severe lack of public defenders.

Schmidt’s office released the following statement regarding the billboard:

“This dissemination of misinformation undermines the work of the DA and discredits the dedicated work of all employees in the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office who are serving our county during one of the most challenging periods in recent memory.”

“The truth is MCDA is prosecuting cases referred to us by law enforcement at the same rate as we did in 2018 and 2019. In fact, our issuance rates for property crimes, including stolen car cases, and firearm cases are significantly higher than in those years and climbing.”

“Yet, the focus of our office is not simply on prosecution rates, but rather on successful outcomes, such as serving victims, holding offenders accountable, and reducing recidivism. At MCDA we are actively working to achieve these outcomes.”

“In addition, prosecution and incarceration alone cannot prevent crime; there has to be a collaborative approach with law enforcement and community partners to get in front of the issues to prevent crime. The DA is actively doing this. For example, he is working with PPB, GPD and MCSO on new strategies for increasing vehicle theft interdiction; he implemented the neighborhood prosecution program, MAAP, to embed DDAs in communities; and he’s advocating for legislative changes that will benefit community safety, like stiffer penalties for street racing and gun violence prevention.”

“Our office will continue to focus on prosecuting cases and achieving positive outcomes, and the DA remains dedicated to a smart, collaborative approach to justice and public safety.”>>


<<A towering four-story billboard criticizing the politics of Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt was prominently hung near the intersection of Washington Street and 2nd Ave. on April 4, greeting those entering Downtown from Morrison Bridge with the message: “Portland is a Schmidt Show!”

The billboard, paid for by the group People for Portland, also lists “record crime,” “fewer prosecutions” and “empty jail beds” as some of Schmidt’s accomplishments since he took office in 2020. The DA’s office responded to the billboard on Wednesday, calling it “misinformation.”>>

<<People for Portland publicly celebrated its new billboard Tuesday, sharing video of the moment it was strung across the Governor Building on Facebook. “Send a message that you’re sick of the “Schmidt show,” People for Portland wrote on Facebook, urging people to write to Multnomah County leaders to ask for “stronger leadership” and changes in policies and budget priorities.

The group’s website also calls for an end to “inhumane, dangerous public camping” and a restoration of public safety “with more police and better policing” and less “garbage, waste and graffiti.” People for Portland’s billboard, ironically enough, has since been vandalized with a traces of gold paint that now run along the bottom half of the sign.>>

The DA’s office, meanwhile, said that its prosecution tactics have not changed since Schmidt took office. In November, Schmidt released property crime data showing prosecution rates rising for property crimes like burglary, robbery and automobile theft since the end of the pandemic.

“The truth is: [The DA’s office] is prosecuting cases referred to us by law enforcement at the same rate as we did in 2018 and 2019,” the DA’s office said in response to the billboard. “In fact, our issuance rates for property crimes, including stolen car cases, and firearm cases are significantly higher than in those years and climbing.”

However, Commissioner Gonzalez has argued as part of his 90-day action plan, in which he outlined the potential for reestablishing a municipal court in Portland for the first time in 52 years, that the prosecution of misdemeanors has fallen significantly in recent years.

“Some 50 years ago, the city made the choice to outsource that to the county and the district attorney,” Gonzalez said in February. “We’d like the next 90 days to reevaluate some of the underpinnings in that decision — specifically to address something we’re all seeing and feeling today. High level, we’re prosecuting a fraction of the misdemeanors we used to in Multnomah County. That goes back more than a decade. That predates any elected official [on the council].”>>


[KW NOTE: Koin really buried the lede. Golzalez’s proposal harkens back to a time when there was essentially a separate justice system for homeless people. The Portland municipal court mainly handled low-order offenses that have since been decriminalized: vagrancy, public drunkenness, simple possession.  It was notorious for what even the cops called assembly line justice.  A dozen people with similar charges would be brought in, the judge would read their names and ask how they plea, they would in unison say “guilty,” be sentenced to time served and released.  If anyone said “not guilty,” they would be returned to jail to wait trial.]


<<A police advisory group made up of members of Portland’s LGBTQ+ and sex work communities shut down last year after 27 years of monthly meetings. Its chair had stepped down and no one volunteered to take his place.

It was a disappointment to many, including Theresa “Darklady” Reed, who operates a dungeon in the Central Eastside.

“It’s really important to keep those lines of communication open between alternative lifestyle communities and the police force,” she tells WW.

Why? Because Reed, like many people operating in the sexual entertainment business, operates in a legal gray area.

Her business, Catalyst: A Sex Positive Place, is a community space designed for BDSM play parties. (For the unfamiliar, BDSM refers to a set of erotic practices that include bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism.) Catalyst relies on volunteers and is funded through Reed’s writing, door fees and monthly memberships.

But not everything that happens there is strictly legal.

In Portland, which as recently as 2015 was proclaimed the kinkiest city in America by kinkuniversity.com, statutes on the books banning “sadomasochistic abuse” in live shows have been ruled unenforceable by the state’s Supreme Court. Still, aspects of BDSM are illegal even in the privacy of one’s own home—an Oregonian cannot consent to being strangled, at least not according to a recent Oregon Court of Appeals ruling.

Reed hopes the BDSM community will soon have a voice on the city’s latest police advisory committee, the Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing.

Meanwhile, although there’s no evidence that police have any appetite for a crackdown, the loss of a direct line of communication still has some kink practitioners edgy.

Those who practice BDSM have long found ways to distinguish between harm and hurt. The law in many ways has not.

As sex worker Elle Stanger explains to WW, “Law experts typically don’t understand BDSM or kink, so they tend to pathologize it.”

Portland has long been a haven for the kink community. Then-Mayor Vera Katz dedicated a “Leather Pride Week” in the summer of 2002, and the city is host to KinkFest, held annually at the Portland Expo Center, which advertises one of the “largest kinky play spaces in the world.”

And Elizabeth Allen has helped teach police how to deal with it.

“I sat down with vice cops and explained to them what BDSM is, so they no longer had a boogeyman to go after,” she says.

Allen, a Beaverton clinical sexologist, had been a member of the Alliance for Safer Communities since its founding in 1995 as a response to harassment of gay men by the cops. She calls its disbanding a major blow, and she’s worried that younger members of the community may not be aware of its importance.

“We would make way more progress for trans people and for sex workers in Multnomah County than they’re going to make without us,” she says.

Furthermore, she thinks there’s a risk that police could return to raiding BDSM parties. “There’s definitely a risk of backsliding—those statutes are on the books,” she says.

There’s no evidence that the police are preparing such a crackdown, and the Portland Police Bureau says it won’t bother Kinkfest or similar events. “I can say with confidence that PPB does not plan to shut down any events related to Kinkfest,” says bureau spokesman Sgt. Kevin Allen.

“Consensual activity of that nature is lawful, not uncommon in Portland, and we rarely get calls for service at those events.”

The reason police indulgence matters so much is because the law allows little room for some of BDSM’s common practices.

On March 22, for example, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a ruling that criminal defense lawyers say amounts to the criminalization of BDSM.

A Linn County man, Sunny Stone, was convicted in 2020 for strangling a woman who was then his live-in girlfriend. Stone did not dispute that he wound a power cord around her neck until she passed out before handcuffing her to the bed. Instead, he argued, it was sexual play in a relationship where BDSM was long treated as consensual.

A jury convicted him of strangulation and assault. The judge had told the jury that in cases of strangulation, “consent or nonconsent is simply not a factor.”

Stone appealed, and won a mixed verdict. Appeals Court Judge Robyn Ridler Aoyagi noted that the Legislature offered three instances in which strangulation wasn’t a crime: in medicine, dentistry and religious practices. But sexual play? Not mentioned. She threw out the assault conviction but let strangulation stand.

The conclusion of Portland criminal defense lawyer Rankin Johnson: “Under [State v.] Stone, BDSM is clearly illegal.”

Johnson noted that the decision could have far-reaching implications. “I have no idea how this is going to play out.”

This is not the first such ruling—a federal court in Virginia ruled in 2016 that there’s no constitutional right to engage in consensual BDSM, citing the need to protect vulnerable sex partners at risk of harm—although it might come as a surprise to kink-friendly Portlanders to see an Oregon court come to the same conclusion.

Stanger the sex worker has a solution: amend the laws. “There needs to be methods for people to be heard when they say, ‘I want to do this, even if it looks harmful.’”

Otherwise, she’ll go on breaking them. During a call with a WW reporter, she described being “very lightly” strangled just minutes before, in the shower by her boyfriend.

“Baby,” she teased him, “you just broke the law.”>>



<<The Portland City Council is poised to vote Wednesday on an agreement with the Portland Firefighters Association that would offer pay increases to firefighters required to work mandatory overtime due to understaffing.

If the council approves the deal, firefighters will receive an additional $100 per mandatory overtime shift they work. The ratification of the agreement would also nullify any ongoing disciplinary action for firefighters that refused to work a mandatory overtime shift.

Another peculiar perk: Firefighters could once again wash their personal cars at the fire stations using city water. That practice became a point of contention early last year when then-Portland City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero called it a waste of taxpayer dollars and cited an administrative rule that bans employees from using city resources for personal use.

Fire Chief Sara Boone at the time told firefighters to cease washing personal cars at stations. According to the proposed policy language, the agreement would rescind Boone’s directive to halt car washing. The policy calls the reinstitution of car washing a “much-needed boost to morale.”>>