Atlanta, GA – A former Portland activist has taken to Twitter to criticize the city council for funding more police officers in schools, and claimed he is still traumatized by being served with a search warrant back when he was stealing at Southridge High School.
But Gregory McKelvey’s memories of that incident, and another for which he was arrested in 2011, characterize him as an innocent victim.
And that doesn’t track with police and media accounts of what actually happened.
McKelvey, who now lives in Atlanta, began tweeting about his high school experience with police late on the evening on Dec. 12 after the city council voted 4 to 1 to fund the additional school resource officers.
“I had a police officer stationed in my high school. At one point he got a warrant to investigate me for a stolen calculator, that I didn’t steal. He kicked down my door after school one day with 8 other cops in riot gear with guns drawn on my Grandma,” he wrote.
Twenty self-serving tweets later, McKelvey reiterated that he hadn’t stolen the calculator.
He claimed the “trauma” permanently messed him up and ruined high school for him.
"The point is," McKelvey told The Oregonian "is a stolen calculator worth that militarized response?"
But McKelvey’s dramatic retelling of the story turned out to be wildly inaccurate.
Six officers in regular uniforms served a search warrant on his home, and none of them drew a weapon the entire time they were at the house, according to The Oregonian.
Police said they got a search warrant for McKelvey’s house because they had probable cause that he was stealing numerous calculators and reselling them online to make money.
Once in the house, officers recovered McKelvey’s laptop, which contained numerous pictures of calculators that they believed had been used to sell the stolen merchandise on Craig’s List, The Oregonian reported.
And so McKelvey changed his story.
He told The Oregonian he “accidentally” stole a calculator he’d borrowed from the school library, then he kept it and sold it to somebody else for $20.
After admitting he had sold stolen property, McKelvey dismissed it as a childish misdeed.
"We were kids," McKelvey said. "One of my friends stole an entire cart of them and basically was handing them out, and everyone all of a sudden could have $20 at any time. The point is we should have got detention, not warrants."
The case was referred to the Washington County District Attorney’s Office and the charges were eventually dropped, but it’s not known what actually happened in court, or why, because McKelvey was a minor at the time and those records are sealed, The Oregonian reported.
The Portland activist demonstrated the same flexibility with the truth when he got outed earlier this year for having been arrested after an altercation with an ex-girlfriend during his freshman year of college at Oregon State University.
Police responded to McKelvey’s dorm at about 3 a.m. on Sept. 24, 2011 for a fight between McKelvey and a woman under the age of 18, according to an archived article in the Corvallis Gazette-Times.
Oregon state troopers investigated the incident and arrested McKelvey on Sept. 30, 2011 on charges of fourth-degree assault, first-degree domestic kidnapping, strangulation, and harassment.
Oregon State Police Lieutenant Steve Mitchell said at the time that the kidnapping charge came from the woman saying she could not safely leave the room.
McKelvey was booked into the Benton County jail and later released on $132,500 bail, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported.
What happened after that is unknown because Oregon State Police reports are exempt from the state’s public records law, and the Benton County District Attorney’s Office told The Oregonian they didn’t have any publicly-available records on the case.
Oregon State University Spokesman Steve Clark said that an incident such as was described in the newspapers at the time would have been referred to the Office of Student Conduct for investigation.
However, federal laws protecting student privacy prevented the university from releasing any additional details, The Oregonian reported.
When McKelvey was first confronted with his arrest history, he denied on his Facebook page that it had ever happened.
He later deleted that exchange and released a statement where he claimed that he hadn’t been in an altercation with his ex-girlfriend at all, but that he had tried to break up her fight with another woman.
"I was not the target of any physical altercation but rather someone who intervened on behalf of someone else," McKelvey wrote. “There was never any allegation that I struck her."
His repeated denials rang hollow to a number of the women the activist had been working with in resistance to President Donald Trump in Portland.
"The accusations discouraged us from working with Portland's Resistance heavily," said Olivia Pace, a former organizer with the Portland State University Student Union. "None of us trusted Greg."
Another activist named Mimi German said she was contacted by somebody from McKelvey’s organization and told to stop bringing up his 2011 arrest, according to The Oregonian.
"I don't understand why some in our community aren't taking this seriously," German said. "Why is this any different than Harvey Weinstein? To me it was terrifying."
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