Oregon DOJ settles suit filed by top civil rights lawyer

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PORTLAND — The Oregon Department of Justice agreed to pay $205,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the lawyer in charge of its civil rights division.

Erious Johnson Jr. brought the suit after learning he had put under digital surveillance by his own colleague. An investigator said he was ordered in September 2015 to test new software to search for potential anti-government threats, and one Twitter hashtag he checked was #BlackLivesMatter.

Johnson’s lawsuit said the Twitter feed was examined after the investigator noticed a logo connected with the hip-hop group Public Enemy. The lawsuit said the logo depicts a black man in silhouette in the crosshairs of a gun, but the investigator mistook the man for a police officer and wrote to his supervisor that Johnson could be a threat.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the settlement was signed this month, and Johnson agreed to leave his job by Friday.