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Pepper-sprayed protester's lawsuit moves to federal court

Protester Elizabeth Evon Nichols’ lawsuit against the city of Portland and two police officers has been moved from state court to federal court.

Nichols’ attorneys Benjamin Haile and Kenneth Kreuscher moved the lawsuit Friday in Portland’s U.S. District Court. The case was originally filed Oct. 5 in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

Nichols was part of a Nov. 17, 2011, protest of banking practices at Southwest Sixth Avenue and Yamhill Street when she claims in the lawsuit she was pushed by police into a crowded sidewalk and then hit in the face with a blast of pepper spray. A photo of the incident by photographer Randy L. Rasmussen was published in The Oregonian.

Nichols was among about four dozen protesters arrested that day. She was charged with two counts of interfering with a police officer.

Defendents in Nichols’ lawsuit include the city of Portland and police officers Jeffrey McDaniel and Doris Paisley. The lawsuit claims the police action was unreasonable force through its use of pepper spray and a violation of Nichols’ First Amendment rights.

The city and the police officers have not answered the lawsuit or commented on its claims.

She is seeking more than $155,000 in damages for the pain and suffering caused by the pepper spray.

No date has been set for a trial in federal court.