Trial to begin for man who pulled gun at rally

Police arrested Michael Strickland on July 7 after he pulled a gun on a crowd of protesters

Michael Strickland holds a gun in Portland, Ore., during a rally to protest the deaths of two black men shot by police in Minnesota and Louisiana. (AP Photo/Diego G Diaz)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A Multnomah County judge denied a change of venue request in the trial of Michael Strickland, who is accused of pulling out a gun and pointing it at people attending a Black Lives Matter event downtown.

Michael Strickland, 36, was arrested for displaying a gun during a Portland rally. (MCSO)
Michael Strickland, 36, was arrested for displaying a gun during a Portland rally. (MCSO)

Strickland’s five-day trial is scheduled to start on Monday before Judge Thomas M. Ryan.

Police arrested Strickland on July 7, 2016 after he pulled a gun on a crowd of protesters.

It’s not disputed that Strickland pulled out the gun. The incident was caught on camera and live on social media.

Strickland’s defense is that he pulled his gun in self-defense because he believed the crowd was turning aggressive toward him, according to court records.

When the incident happened, the police bureau had an officer working in an undercover capacity. The officer reported that the march through downtown stopped outside the Multnomah County Justice Center on Southwest 3rd Avenue.

The officer reports hearing multiple people yelling “gun, gun” and “he’s got a gun,” according to court records.

Strickland was holding a black handgun at chest-level, according to prosecutors.

“Mr. Strickland pointed the gun at the crowd in a sweeping motion, sweeping it back and forth for approximately 4 to 5 seconds,” according to court records.

Once the crowd started to move away, Strickland holstered his handgun but “continued to put his hand on and off the gun as it was holstered,” prosecutors allege.

Witnesses told investigators that Strickland had recently attended other protests in which he had “tried to incite and instigate others,” according to court records.

Officers took Strickland into custody and found that the handgun had “an extremely large magazine,” according to court records. A live round was found in the chamber.

Records show that police found two magazines that contained ammunition for the handgun.

While police were looking into Strickland, they learned that on June 12 he attended a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Orlando shooting victims at Pulse Nightclub. He was seen videotaping the attendees.

According to prosecutors, Strickland was asked to leave the event. In the days that followed the vigil, the person who asked Strickland to leave began receiving numerous text messages phone calls that “were threatening.”

A grand jury indicted Strickland with 10 counts of unlawful use of a weapon, a Class C felony, 10 counts of menacing, a Class A misdemeanor, and one count of second-degree disorderly conduct, a Class B misdemeanor.

Records provided by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office show people who know Strickland described him as an “alternative media guy.” He told police at the time of his arrest that he runs an “independent media website and he was at the rally as ‘media personnel’ to video record the rally.”

Police reportedly asked Strickland why he just didn’t leave the rally when he first sensed – what he described – as aggression from the crowd. He told them that “it was his job to video record those types of events” and said “he has every right to do his job even if people disagree with his opinions.”

In Judge Ryan’s order denying the change of venue, he wrote “I find that there is no reasonable likelihood that prejudicial news in this case will prevent a fair trial.”

Strickland remains out of custody.