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Top aide for Oregon House Speaker among dozens arrested in Portland

Top aide for Oregon House Speaker among dozens arrested in Portland
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A top aide to the Oregon House Speaker was among the dozens arrested in Portland, Ore., over the weekend, police confirmed to The Hill Thursday.

Kristina Narayan, 29, was arrested late Saturday night and charged with interfering with a peace officer after protests evolved into a police-declared riot in Portland.

Narayan’s LinkedIn profile lists Oregon House Speaker Rep. Tina Kotek (D) as her employer since September 2016 and says she has served as legislative director since May 2018.

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“Kristina Narayan was arrested for Interfering with a Police Officer after the event became a riot and the crowd was given multiple orders to disperse, which she did not do,” Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Officer Derek Carmon told The Hill.

Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office records indicate that Narayan was booked at 2:07 am. on Sunday, was released later that day and did not have to pay bail. Her case was dismissed on Monday, according to a spokesperson for Kotek's office.

In a statement, Kotek said that "freedom of expression" represents the "foundation of democracy."

"Every person – including members of my staff – has the right to stand up for what they believe and engage in nonviolent resistance," she said. "Kristina’s experience is similar to what other Portlanders have experienced over the last few months. We need peace and accountability.”

Narayan was among 59 people who were arrested during the riot that occurred Saturday night into Sunday morning. Police declared a riot after 9:15 p.m. after protesters threw “multiple fire bombs at officers,” with one catching a community member on fire, according to a police release. Rocks, fireworks and mortars were also thrown at officers. 

“This criminal activity presented an extreme danger to life safety for all community members, and prompted a declaration of a riot,” the release stated. “The crowd was advised over loudspeaker that it was a riot and they were to leave the area to the east immediately” or risk arrest.

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Narayan said in a statement that she was taking pictures of arrests from behind the police line before officers told her she was "under arrest." She said she "was on the sidewalk, not interfering with police actions."

She said during her arrest and detainment, she received "conflicting information" when asking about what she did and what her charges would be. 

"I believe vandalism and violent person crimes should result in arrest and prosecution," she said in her statement. "I believe it is my right to practice resistance, including remaining in place or documenting what I consider to be unlawful and indiscriminate arrests."

"I am concerned that officers are intentionally stacking charges for non-violent, non-destructive protesters to dissuade protest and stifle freedom of expression that they view as non-compliant or disruptive," she continued. "I am concerned that officers often police protests with the indiscriminate view that everyone is violent and destructive, or endorses violence and destruction, when that is not the case."

The Washington Free Beacon first reported her arrest on Wednesday. 

Portland erupted in protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May. The demonstrations and riots have continued since, prompting President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE at one point in July to send federal law enforcement to quell the unrest. 

Most of the Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality have been peaceful, but others have evolved into violence and looting.

Updated on Sept. 11 at 10:19 a.m.