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Federal judge rules police tactic used in Ferguson protests unconstitutional

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri [official website] ruled Monday that a tactic employed by police to control protesters in Ferguson, Missouri is unconstitutional and issued a preliminary injunction [text, PDF] to stop the practice. Police were forcing peaceful protesters to keep moving, a crowd-control tactic that also kept protesters from standing on sidewalks. Police began enforcing this "five-second rule," where protesters were told they could not remain still for more than five seconds, in August during protests following the death of Michael Brown. Judge Catherine Perry stated that the ad hoc rule prevented protesters from peacefully assembling on public sidewalks.

Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer [USA Today report] in August. Many Ferguson residents believe the killing was racially motivated and have demonstrated in protest. Later that month a lawsuit was filed [JURIST report] against the city of Ferguson for unwarranted and unnecessary force by St. Louis County Police and Ferguson police against demonstrators. A week prior Missouri Governor Jay Nixon issued an executive order authorizing the Missouri National Guard to provide assistance in the city of Ferguson following a period of civil unrest that prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency [JURIST reports] the Saturday before.

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