Two PSU students sue university over protest participation

By Tiffany Camhi (OPB)
July 2, 2024 12:51 a.m.

Each of the lawsuits, filed Monday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, is seeking $445,000 in damages and a jury trial.

Two Portland State University students are suing over unlawful retaliation related to a campus protest in May. The two students previously filed tort claims against PSU, alleging unlawful use of force.

Hundreds of people attend a pro-Palestinian protest on Portland State University's campus on Monday, April 29, 2024.

Hundreds of people attend a pro-Palestinian protest on Portland State University's campus on Monday, April 29, 2024.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB


Monday’s lawsuits stem from a May 23 protest on campus in which seven people were arrested. That protest over the war in Gaza started out as a peaceful student-led demonstration at PSU’s Urban Plaza. The demonstration then moved to an administration building where two students locked themselves to the building’s doors with chains. PSU’s campus police and the Portland Police Bureau responded.

Portland State students Makayla Topaz Arnold, 25, and David Mosqueira, 28, were in the crowd of demonstrators that attempted to shield the chained students from law enforcement. Civil rights attorney Michael Fuller is representing both Arnold and Mosqueira.

Video of the event showed some campus police officers shoving protesters to the ground. Students at the protest reported at least one officer throwing punches and making violent remarks.

It was during that protest that PSU’s Chief of Campus Police, Willie Halliburton, suffered a medical emergency and had to be transported to a hospital.


On May 29, Arnold and Mosqueira filed claims against the City of Portland and PSU alleging unlawful use of force against them during the protest. Those claims said both students have experienced physical pain, mental suffering, emotional distress and humiliation. Neither of the tort claims resulted in a lawsuit. One of the students is close to settling with the city, according to Fuller.

“We wanted to put the police and the university on notice that there are legal observers watching how they’re handling these peaceful assemblies,” said Fuller of the May tort claims. “We’re not going to stand by and let them rough up peaceful protesters.”

PSU has not directly responded to the two students’ tort claims, said Fuller. But both students received email notices of alleged violations of PSU’s Student Code of Conduct shortly after the claims were served.

The June 4 email notice from PSU, obtained by OPB, said the university’s Office of the Dean of Student Life received information regarding Arnold and Mosqueira’s involvement in the May 23 protest. The university notice requested an initial investigative interview from the students. It did not describe the alleged conduct violation.

Fuller said the timing of PSU’s notice to the students could be considered harassment and a deterrent to other students considering lawsuits against the university.

“It just seems highly suspect that the two students who went on record as having had their rights violated are now — just days later — getting hauled into the office of student conduct,” said Fuller.

The notices were also sent to the students during finals week at PSU. In the lawsuits filed Monday, both students claim the university’s response impacted their education and distracted them from studying. Arnold is studying biology at PSU. Mosqueira is a pre-med student.

A PSU spokesperson said the university cannot comment on ongoing litigation or specific student information in student conduct proceedings.

Several other universities across the U.S. are facing similar lawsuits from students who participated in the wave of protests over the war in Gaza this spring.