As you may already know, many of the protesters/rioters arrested in Portland eventually have the charges against them dropped by DA Mike Schmidt, which means they often face no real consequences. In the short term, bail money is often provided meaning those arrested are back on the street in a matter of hours. However, getting arrested means they still get booked and that includes having a mugshot taken by the police.
Those mugshots are public records and are published online by the Portland Police Bureau. Reporter Andy Ngo, who covers Antifa as a beat, often tweets out those images along with some public information about the individuals pictured. But the Willamette Week ran a story yesterday in which several people complain that they’ve received threats because their mugshots were tweeted out.
On Aug. 7, Black activist Ragina Gray was tackled by Portland police at a protest and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and interfering with an officer.
That same day, conservative Portland activist Andy Ngo shared Gray’s name and mug shot on Twitter.
“Gray, 30, is charged with interfering with an officer, resisting arrest and more,” Ngo wrote on Twitter. “She was arrested at the violent antifa protest in Portland and quickly bailed out. Gray is frequently photographed with kids at protests and rants about white terrorism.” The photo was retweeted by 475 people.
Twelve nights later, on Aug. 19, a man showed up on the doorstep of Gray’s mother’s eastside home. “He was sweaty and nervous looking, and he asked for Ragina by name,” says Lucinda Fisher, Gray’s mom. “He mentioned [Gray’s] son, and I noticed he had a gun in his hand.” Fisher slammed the door and called the police…
Gray has no direct evidence that Ngo’s robust social media presence is the reason an armed man arrived at her mom’s house…
Ragina Gray continues to attend protests, despite threatening messages she receives on Instagram and Twitter. She says she deletes them as soon as she gets them, but says “people are calling me a terrorist, calling me a n—–.” And the messengers, she says, are “Mostly white men. All white men.”
First, let me say up front that obviously no one should be making threats online much less showing up at someone’s house with a gun. That is crazy behavior and shouldn’t be happening to anyone.
That said, I have several problems with this story, starting with the fact that as both Gray and the author admit, there’s no proof this incident has any connection to Andy Ngo. We’re just supposed to assume that one of his followers might be the reason this person showed up at the door. But we actually don’t know that and reporters shouldn’t be insinuating that when they don’t know.
That’s not my only problem with this. Here’s another one: Do we even know for certain that this happened as it was described? The author apparently spoke to Gray’s mother who said she called the police. That’s a bit ironic in itself, but is there a police report? Is there 911 audio of the call? Maybe there is but we’re not shown any of that supporting information in this story.
I’ll be blunt about why I want to see that supporting documentation in this case: Far left protesters lie.
I’ve seen protesters shove themselves onto the bumper of cars and then claim they were being attacked by the driver. I’ve seen protesters claim they were having a seizure during an arrest and then suddenly recover once that tactic fails. And I’ve seen many groups of protesters committing crimes in the street while chanting “What did you see? I didn’t see s**t!” So yes, some of these people not only lie but make lying part of the foundation of their behavior in the streets. And the fact that Andy Ngo is widely hated by these same people would seem to provide a motive for someone to lie in this case. Again, maybe this story is 100% true but under the circumstances I think some additional skepticism is warranted here.
The other problem with this is that the author admits up front Andy Ngo hasn’t done anything illegal. The subhead for this story reads, “What Andy Ngo is doing is legal. The mug shots are public records. And Ngo told WW that it is his ‘duty’ to report on protesters who have been arrested.” Here’s Ngo’s own response to the story (at least the portion they chose to include):
“If you feel that transparency and public right to know should be outweighed by arrestee rights to privacy, this is a complaint for the Legislature, not for journalists reporting in compliance with state and federal law,” he said. “A better question would be, ‘Why do some journalists feel compelled to hide the identities of suspected criminals from the public?’ Another would be, ‘Whose interests does the suppression of criminal arrest data serve?'”
He makes a good point. As I’ve pointed out before, photographers at the nightly protests/riots in Portland often seem to be very careful about not including any faces in their video or photos. I posted a photo recently in which you could see the arm of a person squirting lighter fluid onto a fire started at the police union building, but the face of that person was left just out of the frame. Why is that? Why are reporters intentionally protecting the face of an arsonist?
So again, the story here is that Andy Ngo is reposting public information that has already been posted elsewhere online. He’s not releasing private information like addresses or phone numbers. If a few individuals are gathering that information on their own and using it to harass people, that’s wrong. I fully support the police looking into incidents like the one Ragina Gray’s mother described. But those crimes are on the individuals committing them, not on Andy Ngo.
Update: Here’s Ngo, pointing out his full response to this report. As you can see, it’s much longer and more comprehensive than the bit they published.
Portland paper @wweek is publishing a story about riot arrestees who are upset I post public records. This is my full emailed response to the reporter.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) September 13, 2020
Update: Well, I can’t say I’m surprised. Andy Ngo contacted a public information officer with the Portland police and was told there is no police report or record of a call about the alleged incident described above. He asked the reporter for an update and she told him to talk to her editor. (She has also protected her tweets. Not sure if that was in response to this or happened before this.)
Update: So there appears to be no record of the police report or call to police, contradicting a key point of the WW report about the people who had their lives “upturned” because of the release of their arrest info. I have forwarded my inquiry on to WW editor @AaronMesh. pic.twitter.com/RFhH6h4A1i
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) September 17, 2020
How did reporter @sophiegreenleaf verify the claim that an armed man showed up to Ragina Gray's family home after her booking photo was published? The story says her mother, Lucinda Fisher, immediately called police.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) September 16, 2020
Update 9/18: Willamette Week has added an update to the original story confirming what Andy Ngo discovered, i.e. the police have no record of a call about the alleged incident described in the story.
(Update: After this story was published, readers questioned whether Lucinda Fisher had called police. On Sept. 17, The Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications, which fields calls to 911, told WW it can find no record of a call from Fisher or an associated number and address on Aug. 19. Gray and Fisher stand by their account and maintain that Fisher called police. The other subjects in the story, Philip Wenzel and April Epperson, do not claim to have contacted police regarding harassment.)
That raises the next question which I already asked above: Did the alleged harassment happen?
If someone showed up at my house with a gun I’d definitely call the police. But there’s no record of such a call. All we have at this point to back up the whole story is the word of two people who’ve shown they can’t be taken at their word.