Navy vet’s ‘sense of activism changed’ since beating by feds

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Chris David has spent the last few months healing — in more ways than one

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Navy veteran Chris David took some time off after getting surgery on his hand, and only went back to work within the past couple of weeks. But despite getting back into a routine, he says his life has been fundamentally changed since one night in July.

David became an overnight sensation in July after a video went viral showing him being beaten by federal officers with batons outside the federal courthouse building in downtown Portland. He told KOIN he was beaten after asking the officers “if it was okay to violate their oath of the Constitution.” David left when the officers started using pepper spray on him.

The video, taken by Portland Tribune reporter Zane Sparling, captured the nation’s attention. Locals started referring to David as “Captain Portland.” But in reality, the Navy veteran said he wasn’t “made of steel” and needed surgery to repair his hand.

David said doctors used two long pins to help repair one of his shattered fingers. He’s used the past few months to focus on healing and recovery — in more ways than one.

“My sense of activism has significantly changed,” David told KOIN this week. “The things I want to be, to advocate for: police reform, criminal justice reform.”

David said he helped launch the so-called Wall of Vets — a group of military veterans who have joined protests throughout the summer to support protesters’ rights to free speech. He’s also been communicating with fellow veterans online.

“I work with the Lincoln Project. I’m on the veterans leadership council there,” David explained.

He believes the United States was never meant to have a national police force and the Department of Homeland Security should therefore be shuttered.

David’s views and thoughts are reaching more people as his platform for activism expands. David now has more than 58,000 followers on Twitter, where he shares political thoughts, pictures of his cats, and nature and landscape photography. He said his experience in July helped him rekindle his photography hobby.

As he continues to heal, David hopes the national media continues to pay attention to what’s happening in Portland because he feels the story — and the fight for change — is far from over.

“As these demonstrations continue, there is still abuse going on of peaceful protesters by law enforcement officers,” he said.

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