Sixty protesters filed a federal lawsuit Thursday accusing the Chicago Police Department of violating their First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by using “brutal, violent and unconstitutional tactics” to curb the social justice protests that took place this summer.
The plaintiffs, who all took part in various Black lives Matter (BLM) rallies and protests in Chicago this summer, named Chicago Police superintendent David Brown and 20 Chicago police officers as defendants.
They allege in their 205-page complaint that police officers struck them with batons, destroyed their property, falsely arrested them, and used excessive verbal abuse as well as “unlawful, retaliatory, and lethal force” in an effort to silence and intimidate them.
They also allege that the Chicago Police Department (CDP) engaged in racially motivated arrests, arresting mostly black protesters even though the protests were attended by people of various races.
Mass protests took place in Chicago and other US cities in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a black man who was suffocated to death in late May by a police officer who knelt on his neck as he begged to breathe. Some of the protests quickly turned into violent clashes between protesters and the police—clashes which, according to the lawsuit, were initiated by the police without provocation.
“CDP’s unconstitutional policies and practices against protesters has [sic] caused plaintiffs significant harm, including the violation of their constitutional rights as well as physical, emotional and mental injuries,” states the 17-count complaint, which calls for the department to pay compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees and any other relief the court deems appropriate to the protesters for the harm suffered.
The city has not yet been served with the suit, according to Chicago Law Department spokeswoman Kathleen Fieweger.