George Floyd protests: Lawsuits extend fight against police brutality from streets to courtrooms

George Floyd protests: Lawsuits extend fight against police brutality from streets to courtrooms

Since the eruption of public protests following the death of George Floyd, thousands of complaints have been logged against law enforcement authorities thrust into the midst of unrest across the country. Perhaps none of the claims stands out more, if only for its novelty, than a federal lawsuit brought last week by four Seattle protesters. Citing the local police department’s “unbridled” use of chemical agents and projectile weapons, the protesters contended that they had been denied the right to assemble because they could not afford afford helmets, body armor and other protective equipment to ensure their safety. The police have wielded the advantage, they claimed, like a “de-facto protest tax.” “Only those who have the means to purchase extensive protective gear can engage in First Amendment speech in the streets of Seattle, where (the) police force is not a source of protection but of antagonism for protesters,” the complaint states. Legal questions raised:What you need to know on the federal response in Portland Nearly three months after Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, nightly street clashes are producing new battles in America’s courtrooms and local government boardrooms. A wave of legal action is just beginning its push, while misconduct claims against police officers are streaming into municipal disciplinary offices, challenging the tactics of authorities in Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis and other scenes of major demonstrations. The constellation of grievances ranges from injuries caused by exposure to tear gas and flying debris in Minneapolis, to the death of a woman ...
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