A federal lawsuit charges that Chicago police officers violated the civil rights of multiple Black Lives Matter protesters this summer during demonstrations in reaction to the police shooting deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others who died or were harmed at the hands of law enforcement.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the 203-page lawsuit was filed Thursday (Nov. 19) on behalf of 60 people who say officers abused them while they protested.
“While the plaintiffs were exercising their First Amendment rights to protest anti-Black police violence,” attorney Vanessa del Valle said during a news conference, “Chicago police officers brutally hit them with batons, including strikes to the head, punched them in the face, tackled them to the ground, kneed and kicked them, dragged them through the streets, used chemical agents on them and kettled them.”
Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown was among 20 officers named as defendants. But others, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot, may also be named.
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The lawsuit alleges 17 counts of violations of the protesters’ First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. It also cites malicious prosecution, failure to intervene in the alleged abuses and a “racially motivated conspiracy to deprive plaintiffs of their constitutional rights,” the Sun-Times reports.
Police clashed with protesters in Chicago several times during the summer and it led to people who were not even involved in any violence to being injured in the confrontations.
“I was just like, man, they’re just in a mode. They’re upset about something,” Jason Perez, who was at one protest and wound up beaten by police, told the Chicago Tribune.
“The officer who punched me needs to be held accountable for his actions,” said Miracle Boyd, another protester who was injured, said at the news conference.
Neither the city of Chicago nor its police department commented on the case except to say that they have not yet been served with the lawsuit.
“We have not been served, but it is important to remember that these are allegations at this stage and not proof,” Kathleen Fieweger, a Chicago city Law Department spokesperson, said in a statement emailed to the Sun-Times. “We will review the complaint thoroughly, and each allegation it contains, once we have been served and respond through the courts as appropriate.”
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