ACLU files lawsuit claiming BRPD violated rights of protesters
BATON ROUGE - The ACLU of Louisiana and other civil rights groups have filed a federal lawsuit against the Baton Rouge Police Department and other law enforcement agencies that were present for protests last weekend.
In that lawsuit, the ACLU claims that the First Amendment rights of demonstrators were violated due to tactics employed as officers tried to break up protests of Alton Sterling's shooting last weekend. Law enforcement is accused of using excessive force, making wrongful arrests and physically/verbally abusing demonstrators as they attempted to disperse the crowds.
The suit seeks to place a temporary restraining order on Baton Rouge Police that would prevent the department from involving itself in planned peaceful protests in the future. Several protests took place last Saturday and Sunday as people gathered to demonstrate. The ACLU has said police tackled Sterling, used a Taser on him and then fatally shot him at point blank range when he hadn’t committed any crime.
The organization cites livestream footage of police telling protesters to get out of the street, then moving them off of sidewalks and eventually even removing some demonstrators from private property where they had sought refuge. Protests centered around the areas of Airine at Goodwood and on Government Street.
“Where, exactly, do government officials expect their citizens to protest? It’s looking, unfortunately, like the answer is 'nowhere,'” said a blog post concerning the lawsuit on the ACLU website.
The ACLU is claiming that officers of the law met peace with violence, escalating nonviolent protests to “full-scale conflict” between citizens and police.
"The police didn't do their job in Baton Rouge, again," said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. "They are bound to protect us from harm, to keep us safe, to do everything possible before throwing someone to the ground or pulling the trigger."