State (OR) v. Strickland: Journalist Convicted of Self Defense

G. Halek
GH is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 26 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his Sig Sauer SP2022 in a Dara Holsters Appendix IWB holster.
by G. Halek
PORTLAND, OREGON (2-13-17) — Prosecutors successfully argued before Multnomah County Circuit Judge Thomas Ryan that concealed carrier and independent videographer-journalist Michael Aaron Strickland, 37, did not have reasonable fear of his own life when he pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and attempted to withdraw from a Black Lives Matter and Don’t Shoot Portland demonstration.
According to Oregon Live, Strickland was found guilty of 10 counts of unlawful use of a weapon, 10 counts of menacing, and second-degree disorderly conduct. Sentencing for Strickland’s trial begins in May.
This case had plenty of video evidence. Strickland, himself a videographer, had recorded parts of the incident in which he was surrounded by members of two organizations and allegedly pushed around and given express threats to harm his life.
At one point, he drew his handgun and told those blocking his exit to “get back!”
No shots were fired and he did not resist Portland police when they arrested him. He was legally licensed to carry a handgun.
We’re not lawyers but I picked out a law that the prosecutors likely used to dismantle Strickland’s case.

2015 ORS 161.219¹

Limitations on use of deadly physical force in defense of a personNotwithstanding the provisions of ORS 161.209 (Use of physical force in defense of a person), a person is not justified in using deadly physical force upon another person unless the person reasonably believes that the other person is:
(1) Committing or attempting to commit a felony involving the use or threatened imminent use of physical force against a person; or
(2) Committing or attempting to commit a burglary in a dwelling; or
(3) Using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force against a person. [1971 c.743 §23]
In order for Strickland to walk away from this scene, the prosecutors needed to prove there was no chance anyone in either crowd of protesters was about to commit a felony involving physical force against Strickland.
Apparently, they convinced the judge.
Before we hear the arguments about he never should have been there to begin with, let’s also consider that Strickland’s occupation may require him to cover active demonstrations. There is no legal reason why he can’t be at those demonstrations so long as he is not provoking the crowd or otherwise violating the law.
Oregon also has a weird interpretation of its legal definition of use of force or deadly force.
According to ORS 161.209,
“…a person is justified in using physical force upon another person for self-defense or to defend a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force, and the person may use a degree of force which the person reasonably believes to be necessary for the purpose. [1971 c.743 §22]”

This type of wording is horrible for law. What one man believes is completely reasonable, another may find to be unsuitable.
Strickland is getting hamstrung.
Even if he manages to avoid serious prison time — which doesn’t appear to be the case — he’s never going to be able to legally possess firearms again.
That’s an exceptional loss for covering a news story.
News reports suggest that Strickland was being called names, pushed around, and probably had a reasonable degree of fear for his well-being. None of those things, though, stood up to the prosecuting team’s arguments that he overreacted and used excessive force.
This is something concealed carriers REALLY need to become aware of — especially as we head into more tumultuous and ridiculous times.
  1. Get good legal counsel — first and always.
  2. Know the state’s law in regards to justified use of force. Get a lawyer to explain it to you if you can’t understand how it’s written — preferably before you run into a situation where you need to knowThat’s not me calling anyone dumb. State laws are legitimately hard to read sometimes.

As sad as it is to say, Strickland is going to get comfy in Oregon’s state prison system. As concealed carriers, we can EASILY avoid a similar fate by simply knowing the law. The law is what we are tried upon. Regardless of our own personal ideas of how we feel society should operate, all of that means nothing when you’re standing before a judge. The judge doesn’t care. Your family certainly will.
But if you feel I missed something pivotal in this case, please do tell us in the comments below. We’re opening this up for debate because, to be honest, perhaps I missed something that would change my opinion. Make your arguments below and keep carrying concealed.
(Finally Unsealed Video) Michael Strickland himself here. Here is a multi angle video that I put together with commentary to explain what had happened.
From OFF Oregon Firearms Federation:
By now many of you know that Mike Strickland, a pro-gun, freelance journalist was convicted of 21 counts of self defense on Friday, Feb.10.
Strickland had been attacked by a mob in Portland while covering a “Black Lives Matter” protest. The attack was planned and coordinated in advance.
You can read more about it here. Victoria Taft has done an outstanding job of documenting the attack and the trial and you can see that here.

In truth, Mike was convicted the moment he was arrested by Portland Police for defending himself against the same kind of mobsters who have trashed Portland repeatedly. Their criminal actions are rarely punished by a county “Justice System ” that encourages rioting and looting but creates political prisoners of people who attempt to defend themselves from criminal attack.

From the moment he was arraigned it was clear the fix was in. As soon as the D.A.’s office in Multnomah County realized who Mike was, they began to assure he would never get a fair trial. And they succeeded.
Mike’s bail was set at an astonishing and unprecedented quarter of a million dollars!

The D.A.’s office made open and absurd accusations about him to the press. They said he was a “white nationalist” and a “racist.” All of it was lies. But what would you expect from a county whose D.A. is a rabid advocate for gun restrictions? D.A. Rod Underhill has testified in favor of gun control bills in Salem and is a proud member of an anti-gun prosecutor’s organization.

Multnomah County is also home to Judge Kenneth Walker who said (in open court) “If I could I would take all the guns in America, put them on big barges and go dump them in the ocean. Nobody would have a gun. Not police, not security, not anybody. We should eliminate all of them.”
All complaints about Walker’s clear bias against the Constitutions of the United States and Oregon were dismissed. Oregon’s Commission on Judicial Fitness found nothing wrong with Walker’s outburst.

When it came time to seat a jury it became clear very quickly that the chances of getting impartial jurists in Multnomah County were almost zero. Only two of the potential jurors believed it was ok to have a firearm for self protection. Both would be eliminated by the prosecutors. Michael’s lawyers made the decision to dispense with the jury and opted for a bench trial. They understood their only hope was a fair and honest judge. They hoped for too much.

As the trial proceeded, everyone: Michael, his lawyers, and supporters in the courtroom were optimistic and confident. The prosecution witnesses either admitted their criminal plans or were quickly proven to be liars.
There is even video of the perpetrators physically assaulting Michael, from his own camera. That video has been ordered SEALED by the very judge who presided over the trial and will likely never be seen by the public.
Everything seemed to be going Mike’s way. But, after all, this is Multnomah County, the county that says your car and your front porch are “public places.” The county that rewards rioters and elects child molesters.

On Thursday, it appeared the trial was over. A use of force expert had testified that Michael’s actions were reasonable. Everyone was sure that Michael would prevail. Then the Multnomah County D.A. announced that they were going to have another surprise witness on Friday to testify that Mike’s use of “force” was criminal. The observers, and Mike’s lawyers were stunned by this last minute ambush witness.

Keep in mind that Mike’s “criminal” actions consisted solely of drawing a lawfully possessed firearm in the face of a mob of armed attackers and backing away without ever placing his finger on the trigger.

The ambush witness was Ryan Rasmussen, a Gresham cop who was not at the scene of the attack but agreed (for reasons yet to be determined) to come in at the 11th hour and testify that drawing your gun in the face of an attacking mob is not “reasonable.” Rasmussen testified that all of the training that he had received and that he teaches centers solely around law enforcement or military, and that none of it applies to civilians. He even testified that police are held to a higher standard than civilians.

Within a minute of the closing arguments, after Rasmussen finished his attacks on Strickland, Judge Thomas Ryan found him guilty on all 21 counts. Mike, his lawyers, and supporters were astonished.

Keep in mind, in Oregon there is no duty to retreat from attackers. But the D.A. and their hired gun witness said Michael’s behavior was criminal because he did not run away. In fact, multiple videos of the event show very, very clearly that Strickland was making every attempt to back away. Michael has had knee issues in the past and has trouble running. Add to that he was weighed down by his backpack full of computer and camera equipment, as well as the tripod with his camera on it. It would have been impossible for him to run away, as he would surely have been tackled behind by the mob.

Incredibly, the DA attacked Mike because, after he felt he was safely away from his attackers, he holstered his gun.

A Portland Police Sgt. who was part of the squad that arrested Michael told us he thought everything Mike did was correct. But none of that mattered. Strickland’s long history ofexposing the hypocrisy and tyranny of the left in Oregon meant he had to be made an example of. They had the power to silence him and chill anyone else who dared shine a light on them and they used it.

This case is about so much more than Mike. If this conviction stands, self defense in Multnomah County, and soon all of Oregon, will be a dead issue. The prosecution attacked Mike because he had backup ammo! They attacked him because he did not “run away” when in fact he did. They told lies about him to taint the jury pool and build up hatred for him in the press. Who among us is next?
If ever there was a clear cut case of self defense, this was it. But a leftist, activist judge in a leftist county decided to ignore the facts and the law and condemn Mike for doing what any rational person in his position would have done.

Multnomah County has sent a message loud and clear. If you riot, attack people and destroy property, you will be protected. If you try to defend yourself from criminals, you will be convicted and jailed. It is simple insanity. What Judge Ryan and D.A. Underhill have said is this. “If you come to Multnomah County and a gang of thugs attacks you, lie down and take the beating. If you are not killed, you will be better off than if you defend yourself and we get ahold of you.”

Because of many generous donors, OFF was able to contribute generously to Mike’s defense. Now we have no choice but to appeal. If we don’t, no one is safe and a precedent has been set for the rest of the state. Politically motivated judges and D.A.’s can ignore the law with impunity. We will sink into anarchy.
Hello, Michael Strickland himself here. Just wanted to offer some clarification.
I was trying to flee. Immediately upon the attack initiating, I started backing away. I was backing up the block for 40 seconds while the mob continued to pursue and accost me. Trying to flee did not deter them. I issued verbal commands, that didn’t deter them. I employed a non lethal option (my monopod), and that did not deter them. Finally they started to converge upon me from multiple angles again, and that was the decisive moment when I knew I had to draw, or get flattened into the pavement and be robbed of my camera and computer gear.
Furthermore, Oregon is a defacto Stand Your Ground. While not codified, it is case law, State v Sandoval, where the state Supreme Court ruled that there is no duty to retreat.

EPILOGUE: Michael Stricland Loses Mens Rea Appeal

State (OR) v. Strickland

State (OR) v. Strickland
The Oregon Appellate Court decided Michael’s broken arm incurred during an attack in the course of his filming in public on a previous unrelated occasion wasn’t relevant to his self defense argument raised at trial, preferring instead to interpret abstractions while applying them to weasel words such as ‘reasonable’.


Michael Strickland is a conservative blogger for the Progressives Today blog and shares video on his YouTube channel called “LaughingAtLiberals”.

Whiteness History Month

At Portland Community College (PCC)’s Whiteness History Month in April 2016, Strickland attended several events to produce film for his YouTube channel LaughingAtLiberals. A PCC spokeswoman said he was routinely “pushing buttons” and posting heavily edited videos about the events.

Race and Sexual Orientation Based Harassment

Law enforcement say that Strickland has a past police report alleging “possibly race-based threats” against an attendee at a Portland vigil for the victims of last month’s nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.[4] Strickland, who also participated in Portland State University’s PSU for Trump group, was alleged to have participated in online harassment campaigns against lesbian and transgender students and also filmed and mocked students and activists along with PSU for Trump members.

Don’t Shoot Portland rally gun incident

At a Black Lives Matter rally in Portland, Oregon, on 7 July 2016, Strickland pulled a Glock 26 pistol and pointed it at protesters, including an undercover police officer. Portland police reported that Strickland’s pistol was equipped with “an extremely large magazine” and had a round in the chamber.[9][10] The police also reported Strickland was carrying five extra magazines for the pistol, all loaded. Strickland claims he was surrounded by several anarchist protesters who pushed and shoved him, and that he feared for his life.
Portland’s police chief, Mike Marshman, said Strickland’s actions at the rally were “fully unacceptable”, stating, “I’m very, very proud of the members of the Police Bureau who cautiously and safely enabled the protest to continue on. That’s how it should be. To the men and women of the Police Bureau, please continue to do what you do.”
Portland police arrested Strickland at the scene, charging him with menacing and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors. Law enforcement officials then processed Strickland through the Multnomah County Detention Center and released Strickland on his own recognizance.[13] The next day the state added two additional charges of unlawful use of a firearm, a class C felony. At Strickland’s arraignment, the judge set bail at $250,000, with Strickland being released after posting the required bail on July 18. A Multnomah County district attorney sought the high bail amount partly based on alleged race-based threats, including harassing texts and phone calls, reportedly made by Strickland at a previous 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting vigil.
In response to the incident and based on his activities on campuses, Portland State University banned Strickland from its campus for two years, and Portland Community College indefinitely banned Strickland from its campus.
On February 10, 2017, Strickland was found guilty of all 21 counts: 10 counts of unlawful use of a weapon, 10 counts of menacing, and one count of disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to 40 days in jail, 240 hours of community service, banned from taking video of people or events for at least 2017, and is also banned from owning guns.  During the hearing the court discussed finding in a pre-sentence investigation that Strickland had Autistic tendencies or Aspergers.
On April 1, 2020, Michael Strickland’s conviction was affirmed by the Oregon Court of Appeal which rejected the arguments of Strickland, noting that the facts of the case were undisputed.
An Oregon lawmaker took to the barricades in support of a man convicted of pointing a handgun at a crowd during a “Don’t Shoot” downtown Portland protest in July 2016.

Wearing a suit and tie, conservative blogger Michael Strickland sat silently at the desk of Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, during the short speech inside the statehouse on Thursday, March 21.
“He acted in self defense but was treated like a criminal,” Thatcher told her colleagues. “Free speech is free speech. We as a body should honor the Constitution’s explicit protections set aside for that.”
Thatcher specifically spotlighted Strickland’s treatment during a recent guest lecture organized by the College Republicans club at Portland State University. The Tuesday, March 5 encounter inside the student union building was derailed by a counter-protester who stood in front of a projector while ceaselessly ringing a cowbell.
Video of the incident lit up conservative corners of the internet with questions about why a PSU campus police officer stood by idly and didn’t intervene during the hour-long disruption. (The university later released a statement saying the guard “used his professional judgment” in order to not “escalate a potentially unsafe situation.”)
Fox News host Laura Ingraham went on to label the viral occasion as another example of conservatives being “deprived” of their free speech rights on campus.
Strickland’s criminal conviction is currently being tested by the Oregon Appeals Court, who heard oral arguments in October of last year regarding the guilty verdict for 21 counts of felony unlawful use of a weapon, menacing and second-degree disorderly conduct during a bench trial in 2017.
Strickland’s attorney, L.A. lawyer Robert Barnes, says appellate courts affirm trial court outcomes about 80 to 90 percent of the time.
Michael Strickland

“This case boils down to can you defend yourself? Can you assert your Second Amendment right to assert and protect your First Amendment rights? And will the State of Oregon recognize someone’s personal life experience or will they reward the Black Bloc of Portland again?” Barnes said after the appeals hearing Oct. 12.
Strickland maintains he was threatened by a crowd of anti-fascists who were advancing on him, while prosecutors pointed out that no one was touching Strickland during the encounter and he had space to run away.
Court documents from the time say the then 36-year-old was standing outside the Justice Center when he unholstered a Glock and held it at chest level while pointing it “in a sweeping motion” across the crowd for four or five seconds.
Police later found he was carrying a pocket knife and five extra magazines of ammunition. The handgun was equipped with “an extremely large magazine” and had one round in the chamber.

Journalist Michael Strickland Speaks:

No, Michael–What the judges said was the standard for a self defense argument wasn’t what YOU believed, but what a fictitious ‘reasonable’ person would believe in a split second crisis with life hanging in the balance. Such a person doesn’t exist except in the abstract world of judges who haven’t been butt fucked. Nor have they been mobbed–obviously.
They also appear to believe that fear was unreasonable because you had yet to be battered regardless of your prior real world experience and a multi-fracture broken arm arising from street photography which the justices hinted was illegitimate because it was surreptitious despite the fact such techniques are widely deployed by mainstream media and surveillance cameras. Essentially, the justices more than revealed their biases hostile to the 1st and 2nd Amendments. You’re a fool if you don’t appeal this to the federal courts on that basis. Oregon’s interpretation of the admissibility of a self defense argument as well as the 1st & 2nd Amendment is ‘unreasonable’. (The favorite weasel word of attorneys, prosecutors, and judges when they prefer to ignore common sense/the law.)

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