A Portland Alt Weekly Published The Contents Of Public Officials' Garbage To Dunk On Privacy Violations 

Portland officials insist that they have the legal right to search peoples’ trash (without warrants), so a local alt-weekly took it upon themselves to prove that this is entirely wrong and a blatant invasion of privacy.

The only catch is that this alt-weekly publication embarked on this journalistic experiment over 15 years ago. For reasons unknown, the article from 2002 recently went viral (our guess is probably Reddit).

In this recently updated story, shared by the Intercept's Glenn Greenwald on Twitter, Williamette Week explains that the publication decided riffle through city officials’ trash after police officers went through another officer’s trash—without authorization.

Police Chief Mark Kroeker told WW that, “Those that are in the trash are open for trash men and pickers and—and police. And so it’s not a matter of privacy anymore.” If trash isn’t a matter of privacy anymore because it’s no longer in the safe confines of your home, then picking through someone’s trash must be fair game. Right?

While Chief Kroeker may not think that the Fourth Amendment applies to trash (because he believes that trash automatically becomes public property when placed at the curb), WW challenged his questionable definition of the law by going through and listing all the items found in his garbage.

WW elaborates that Chief Kroeker’s opinion of the Fourth Amendment quickly changed after his privacy was in jeopardy. After discovering that WW went through his trash, Chief Kroeker vented to KATU that the alt-weekly scavenged through “[his] personal garbage at [his] home.” Clearly, bending the Fourth Amendment applies only applies to other Portland residents.

Although you might think Portland’s trash-picking tendency might be an isolated incident, other cities also sort through citizens’ trash. According to NPR, Seattle’s city law requires officials to go through your trash. Why? To make sure you’re recycling and fine you if you are mixing compost with your rubbish.