The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five Richmond residents, some of whom were sprayed with tear gas, and others who were forced to leave the protest early after seeing the police deploy chemical weapons.
On June 9th, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington filed an emergency lawsuit demanding that the City of Seattle immediately stop using chemical agents on protestors. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court of Western Washington on behalf of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and individual demonstrators, comes in response to the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) continued use of chemical agents for crowd control.
“The DEA’s narcotics interdiction tactics are not appropriate measures to address the limited violence that has taken place over the past few days or to monitor peaceful protests,” the letter said. “The expansion of the DEA’s law enforcement authority, including the use of ‘covert surveillance’ and collection of intelligence, is unwarranted and antithetical to the American people’s right to peacefully assemble and to exercise their Constitutional rights without undue Intrusion.”
On June 4th, Black Lives Matter and four named protestors sued President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of Defense Mike Esper, and four other federal officials for the violation of First Amendment rights, Fourth Amendment rights, and for conspiring to violate civil rights.
The complaint cites six incidents of arrests, 14 incidents of the use of physical force, five incidents of the use of chemical agents, and five incidents of threatening language and gestures, made by police officers against reporters, often without warning.
Reporters Committee Attorney and author of the 2019 Press Freedom Report Sarah Matthews explains why borders and protests remain risky for journalists, as well as how data collected in the US Press Freedom Tracker drives her advocacy work.
This month, legislators in Kentucky, South Dakota, West Virginia have worked to pass new laws that target individuals protesting fossil fuel companies. Some environmentalists believe legislators took advantage of the fact that national attention was focused on the coronavirus, to pass controversial legislation.
“Not everybody is given the opportunity to have a voice, and I can take a small moment, a respectful moment of protest, and exercise my First Amendment rights, and stand up for my students and for vulnerable adults and for people who are not treated in the way that they should be.”