It’s unclear from the video, shot by journalist Andrew Kimmel, whether the law enforcement officer who sprayed Hastie is a local or federal officer. The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
The Portland Police Bureau told CNN they have no comment on “this action by another agency.”
“The (officer) came up from behind me, I guess, and just got me directly. It blindsided me and I got a full dose of it,” Hastie told CNN in an interview.
Hastie said he approached the officers, who he believed to be deployed by the federal government, because he wanted to tell them about the “horrifying” things American soldiers were tasked with while abroad that he says people don’t know about.
“I wasn’t showing disrespect to them, I wasn’t yelling at them, I was saying, this is my story, and I want to tell you what’s going on because you work for the federal government. I worked for the federal government when I was in Vietnam and let me tell you what we did as a result of me taking an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.”
After he’s sprayed in the video, Hastie stops and puts his hand over his eyes and is seen tearing and unable to open his eyes. “Boy, that was a direct spray,” he says.
It’s unclear what took place at the scene before the video recording began.
Veteran says he is ‘bearing witness’
In the video, Hastie told several people who are heard talking to him that he had been out on the streets for six days in a row. He later told CNN he passed along photographs he took and details of the protests to veterans groups across the country.
“They are very anxious to hear about what’s going on in Portland other than what they’re seeing in the news. They would like to ask somebody that they know who’s on the ground that maybe could be a little bit more objective,” he said.
Hastie told CNN he’s lived in Portland for more than four decades.
Following his time in Vietnam, he said, he participated in several anti-war protests across the country and would often give police a “history lesson” like the one he said he was giving before he was sprayed.
He said he continues to go out to Portland’s streets despite the violent clashes in recent days because he’s “committed to bearing witness.”