Watch CBS News

Christopher David: "Our city has been turned into a war zone intentionally"

Navy vet Christopher David speaks on Portland protests
Navy vet Christopher David speaks on Portland protests 03:26

Christopher David, of Portland, Ore., attended the U.S. Naval Academy for four years, and afterwards served as an officer for eight years in the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps. He recently attended a Black Lives Matter protest in Portland, where he was attacked by federal officers, as seen in a video that went viral. He talked with "CBS Sunday Morning" about his experience:

I saw on Twitter or on TV, there's video of men wearing combat fatigues with no insignia, essentially abducting people from the streets of Portland and putting them in unmarked vans.

I was very concerned about that. If we can't identify who these people are, then anybody could buy surplus military uniforms and start abducting people off the streets of Portland. It's a very slippery slope.

One of the things I wanted to do was try to speak to some of these law enforcement officers and find out why they thought they were still honoring their oath to the Constitution when they were doing unconstitutional things. I wanted to go down and see what this was all about.

This was actually my first protest. I waited around for a couple hours. Nobody came out of the courthouse building. So, I decided I was gonna head home at that point. And that's right around 10:45. And they came out sort of in a phalanx running. And I saw that and I walked out of the park into the street right across from the courthouse, and I stood there and after they were sort of done with the people in the intersection, they came swarming around me.

It was so loud and they were so hyped up I was basically having to yell, "Why are you violating your oath to the Constitution?" I don't think they heard me. They were not interested in dialogue. 

After they essentially surrounded me, one of them pointed a semi-automatic weapon at me. And that's when I stood my ground at that point. I'd rather take a beat-down than be shot.

There was this little guy on my left who decided he was gonna try to chop me down like a redwood tree. And he eventually hit my hand and broke it. And then, I wasn't reacting the way they wanted me to react, so they started pepper-spraying me right in the face. If you've ever had pepper spray right directly in your face, that pretty much ends any conversation.

Christopher David stands his ground as federal officers from the Department of Homeland Security beat him with batons, before pepper-spraying him.  Zane Sparling, Portland Tribune/Twitter

I turned around, gave them a rather rude gesture, and when I turned back around to go into the park to get away from them, I was engulfed in a giant cloud of tear gas. I don't believe that's a reasonable response to what was happening that night.

Before they showed up, the protests were already starting to wane a little bit. They've been escalated by the federal government, by the Department of Homeland Security. And I can only speculate as to the reasons why they are doing this.

I believe, in some respects, it's optics. If they can't find a liberal city with chaos and protests, they're gonna make one. And in this case, Portland is the test case. This is a form of gaslighting, because none of us are talking about Black Lives Matter anymore – we're talking about an old white dude getting beat up. And that's a shift in that conversation that should not be happening.

We need to bring that conversation back to Black Lives Matter and understand why we were here originally. Our city has been turned into a war zone intentionally. And I do not believe it will get any better any time soon. 

For more info: 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.