Baltimore schools administrator and Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson has filed a class-action lawsuit against Baton Rouge over the arrests of hundreds (including himself) during the protest of a deadly police shooting last month.
Filed on Thursday in federal court on behalf of Mckesson and two other arrested protestors, the suit accuses the city and police officials of violating their civil rights and using excessive force in making arrests during a protest over the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police.
“Defendants employed unconstitutional tactics to disturb, disrupt, infringe upon and criminalize plaintiffs and class members’ constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly,” the suit alleges. The suit submits as exhibits photographs widely circulated on social media of the arrest of Mckesson and other protesters. The suit also adds:
“Evidence of Defendants’ misconduct and use of excessive force has been collected by notable and historic civil rights and advocacy organizations, in addition to hundreds of cellphone photographs and videos. News reporters have taken hundreds of photographs, video and audio recordings of the Defendants’ actions.”
The defendants listed include the City of Baton Rouge, Mayor Melvin “Kip” Holden and Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Michael Edmondson, among others.
Mckesson’s attorney, Roy J. Rodney Jr., said he is alleging the arrests of the protesters were illegal, and the jurisdiction must return to them their bond money and expunge any arrest records. The suit does not seek damages, but seeks to recoup money spent fighting what Rodney called unlawful arrests.
“It’s a wonderful thing that Mr. Mckesson has done,” Rodney told The Baltimore Sun. “The lawsuit is narrowly tailored. Many of these protesters were young people. They don’t have money to pay these fees. They should not have the stigma of an unlawful arrest to follow them in the digital age. The people covered by this class are teachers and nurses and doctors and students. To have a false arrest is not helpful to them.”