Moral Low Ground


Peaceful ‘Occupy Portland’ Protester Liz Nichols Blasted in Face with Pepper Spray for Complaining about Police Abuse

A photo of a brave young woman taking a face full of pepper spray from a Portland, Oregon police officer has gone viral, becoming an iconic image that powerfully draws attention to the pervasive police brutality unleashed in response to overwhelmingly peaceful ‘Occupy’ protests.

A face full of police brutality. (Photo: Randy L. Rasmussen/ The Oregonian)

Her name is Liz Nichols. According to The Oregonian, she is a 20-year-old Arkansas native who came to Portland to participate in ‘Occupy’ events with the intention of getting arrested. That would be her way of making a quiet statement against the big banks. Standing only about five feet (1.52 m) tall, Nichols has the courage of a giant. That seeming fearlessness was on full display on Thursday as Nichols and a group of fellow protesters occupied a Chase bank in downtown Portland.

When police arrived, Nichols actually asked to be arrested. After her request was refused, she left the scene for a short time to visit a friend across the street. When she returned, she found herself trapped between a crowd and riot police who were warning people that they risked arrest if they left the sidewalk.

At some point during the chaos, a policewoman jabbed Nichols in her ribs with a baton. The officer then pressed the weapon against her throat, cutting off her airway. This mistreatment can be seen in the video posted below.

Nichols was furious. She gave the female officer a piece of her mind, denouncing the abuse she’d just suffered. Then, another officer suddenly blasted the young woman point-blank in the face with pepper spray. Her mouth was wide open. There was no escaping the burning agony of the chemical weapon, one which has been banned for use in wartime.

“It felt like my face, ears and hands were on fire,” Nichols told The Oregonian. Luckily, Oregonian photographer Randy L. Rasmussen caught the moment that Nichols got her fiery full frontal facial.

After the attack, Nichols fell to the ground where she was seized by police. “She was dragged away by her hair and disappeared into the black of their uniforms,” 31-year-old fellow protester Laura Seeton told The Oregonian. 

Nichols was arrested and hauled off to the Multnomah County Jail. Officers there actually showed her Rasmussen’s photo, advising her to keep her mouth shut the next time she gets pepper sprayed.

She was released around 2 a.m.

Nichols was arraigned on Friday. She pleaded not guilty to three counts of interfering with a police officer.

“I’ll fight this,” she told The Oregonian. 

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