"That's why you shouldn't bring kids to protests."
This taunt, which issued from the sneering lips of an armored riot policeman, struck Don Joughin with the force of a billyclub as he tried to comfort his children – a three-year-old and a newborn – after they had been showered with a chemical agent by a riot policeman.
That assault did not take place during any of the recent "Occupy"-inspired protests. It occurred in August 2002, during a fundraising visit by then-President George W. Bush to Portland, Oregon.
In keeping with then-recently established "security" protocols, local police were deployed in riot gear to keep demonstrators confined inside "free speech zones" located several blocks away from the motorcade route. Joughin, who was accompanied by his wife and three children, was present when police unleashed a pepper-spray fusillade against a small group of protesters who had taken a few steps outside the designated protest zone.
After the police attack began, Joughin and his family attempted to leave, but found themselves penned in. Acting on the tragically innocent assumption that the police were present in order to keep the peace, Joughin politely asked the officer obstructing an exit how he and his family could leave the turbulent intersection. "He pointed and said to exit to the [northeast], into the spraying police opposite him," Joughin recalled.
With his family in danger of being trampled by protesters fleeing the chemical barrage, Joughin asked the officer to let him and his family through. "He looked at me, and drew out his can from his hip and sprayed directly at me," Joughin recalled. He didn't bear the brunt of that criminal assault, but his three-year-old caught some of the blast. The assailant then turned on Joughin's wife and the infant "and doused both of their heads entirely from a distance of less than three feet," Joughin testified.
As his children were screaming in agony, Joughin pleaded with the cops to allow him and his family to leave and seek help. They responded by closing ranks and blocking the Joughin family's escape. They didn't relent until someone in "authority" gave them permission to set them free. The last thing Joughin and his traumatized family heard as they left the scene was the sadistic taunt hurled by one of the tax-devouring thugs who had assaulted the children with a chemical weapon.