Chicago BLM Protesters Sue City Police Alleging Excessive Force

Nov. 19, 2020, 8:51 PM

Chicago police responded to this summer’s protests against racism in law enforcement with “brutal, violent, and unconstitutional tactics” designed to intimidate protesters into silence, the group Protesters in Support of Black Lives says in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday.

The Chicago Police Department’s unlawful tactics included beating protesters with batons, using chemical agents, and making false arrests, the plaintiffs say in their complaint to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The police targeted protest leaders, medics, legal observers, and people recording the demonstrations, the plaintiffs claim. Officers also regularly called protesters vile and vulgar names, destroyed their property, were rude and disrespectful, and escalated encounters, the complaint alleges. The case includes dozens of individuals as plaintiffs in addition to the BLM group.

“These systemic and ongoing violations continue to occur” despite the city being subject to a consent decree that has “entirely failed to create any meaningful change in the CPD,” the plaintiffs allege.

The complaint runs over 200 pages and details the stories of individual plaintiffs like Tamara Fouche, who alleges an unidentified officer “without justification, pushed her with extreme force” off a traffic divider on which she was sitting.

The complaint names as defendants the city, Chicago Police Superintendent David O’Neal Brown, and numerous individual officers.

This is just the latest in a long line of cases challenging law enforcement’s response to protests across the country this year.

Causes of Action: Violations of the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, 4th Amendment and Article I of the Illinois Constitution; conspiracy; failure to intervene; intentional infliction of emotional distress; false arrest and malicious prosecution.

Relief Requested: Damages.

Response: CPD didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.

Attorneys: Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center and Community Justice and Civil Rights Clinic, the People’s Law Office, and Shiller Preyar Jarard & Samuels Law Offices represent the plaintiffs.

The case is Protesters in Support of Black Lives v. Chicago, N.D. Ill., No. 1:20-cv-06851, filed 11/19/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Flood in Washington at bflood@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Peggy Aulino at maulino@bloomberglaw.com

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