Military Culture

Federal officers in Portland break former Navy Seabee’s hand

Old Ironsides is the nickname for the USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still in use today. But it also might be a good monkier for the Navy veteran who unflinchingly took a beating on Saturday, July 18, from federal police in connection with the protests in Portland.

Christoper David, 53, is a local resident and veteran who served in the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps from 1988 to 1996 who walked the line held by the officers because he wanted to ask them about the oath they swore to protect and defend the Constitution, according to the Washington Post.

Instead, he left with two broken bones after being beaten with a baton and pepper sprayed in the face by those very same officers.

This attack came on the 51st night of protesting in Portland in connection with the call for justice in the case of George Floyd, a Black man prosecutors say was murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer, an incident that sparked movements in cities across the nation.

The use of federal officers in Portland in particular, however, has drawn criticism as reports suggest they are not fulfilling their mandate to protect buildings and keep the peace, but rather engaging in acts of brutality. That’s what David says brought him out Saturday.

His aim was not to engage the officers physically, he noted to reporters. After seeing the barricades and the use of pepper spray, David said he approached a gap in the line, reaching out to the officers seeking to ask why they were breaking their oaths.

“I was enraged simply because I did not think they were taking their oath of office seriously or they were compromising their oath of office,” David told The Independent.

When they approached him, David stood his ground, earning him several internet nicknames including “man of steel,” “supersoldier” and “iron man.”

“I knew I was never going to react. I was never going to fight back,” he told the Portland Tribune. “I’m a little too old to be beaten by a bunch of young guys.”

Christopher David is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a Navy veteran. David was beaten Saturday, July 17, 2020, with a wooden baton and pepper-sprayed in the face by authorities during ongoing protests in Portland, Ore. (Christopher David via AP)
Christopher David is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a Navy veteran. David was beaten Saturday, July 17, 2020, with a wooden baton and pepper-sprayed in the face by authorities during ongoing protests in Portland, Ore. (Christopher David via AP)

David, who did not respond to requests by Military Times for comment, said he came away with two broken bones in his hand. On Twitter, he wrote, “My hand is pretty damaged. The hand surgeon splinted it for now, but it looks like plates, screws and/or pins await me on Friday.”

According to documents obtained by Military Times, David attended the Naval Academy prior to serving and his awards include the Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, and he is rated as Rifle marksman and Pistol expert.

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