Black Lives Matter activist sues Baton
Rouge police over arrest
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[August 05, 2016]
(Reuters) - A prominent activist in
the Black Lives Matter movement, DeRay McKesson, on Thursday sued the
chief of the Baton Rouge police department and other officials over the
arrests of nearly 200 demonstrators during peaceful protests about
In the federal civil rights lawsuit, which seeks class action status,
McKesson and fellow protesters Kira Marrero and Gloria La Riva
complained that police were unnecessarily aggressive in arresting them
on July 9. The lawsuit covers arrests in the Louisiana capital between
July 6 and July 11.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney's Office said they had no immediate
comment on the lawsuit.
The activists were protesting the July 5 shooting of a black man, Alton
Sterling, outside a convenience store, one of a string of high-profile
police killings of black people by white officers over the past two
years that were caught on video and reopened debate about race and
discrimination in the United States.
McKesson, known for his activism on social media and who ran in the 2016
Democratic Party primary for mayor of his hometown of Baltimore,
Maryland, said in the lawsuit that demonstrators sought to have all
arrest records expunged as well as unspecified damages.
The allegations in the lawsuit include 16 violations of law by Baton
Rouge police, excessive use of force, conspiracy to deprive protesters
of their civil rights, negligence and arrests without probable cause.
The 23-page complaint said charges of simple obstruction of a highway
against nearly 200 protesters who were arrested were ultimately dropped
by the local prosecutors office, though they still had to pay
administrative and court fees.
"Throughout the protests, the Defendants responded in a militarized and
aggressive manner," the complaint said. "All class members now have
criminal arrest records, which in this digital age could adversely
affect their future employment, education, reputations, and professional
[to top of second column]
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Alton Sterling near the
headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge,
Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A day after Sterling's death, another black man, Philando Castile,
was shot to death by a policeman during a traffic stop near St.
The back-to-back killings brought out protesters nationwide but
after a rally in Dallas, Texas, a gunman shot dead five police
officers in an ambush. Days later, three Baton Rouge police officers
were also killed in an ambush.
Authorities said the shootings of officers by black gunmen were
apparently in anger over the deaths of black people at the hands of
police, but they were not connected to the peaceful protest
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; editing by Grant
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