MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The ACLU of Minnesota announced Tuesday a class-action lawsuit alleging law enforcement used unnecessary and excessive force against peaceful protesters following George Floyd’s death.
Protesters were teargassed, pepper-sprayed, and shot with foam bullets and flashbangs without warning or orders to leave, the suit claims. Two months later, the plaintiffs – Nekima Levy Armstrong, Marques Armstrong, Terry Hempfling, and Rachel Clark – still suffer from severe bruising and vocal problems.
ACLU’s lawsuit was filed in collaboration with Fish & Richardson against the City of Minneapolis, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, police union head Bob Kroll, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, and Minnesota State Patrol Colonel Matthew Langer. It seeks a declaration that the police conduct violated the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments, an injunction, and an award of damages and attorney’s fees.
“It is deeply disturbing that the MPD chose to respond to protests – and to the justifiable frustration and outrage that people feel over George Floyd’s murder by MPD – with violence” said Levy Armstrong, a civil rights lawyer and activist. She and her husband Marques Armstrong still attend protests, but wear protective gear for fear of being attacked again by law enforcement.
“No one should fear tear gassing, foam bullets, or pepper spray while exercising their right to peacefully protest,” said ACLU-MN legal director Teresa Nelson. “That law enforcement here followed their typical pattern of using indiscriminate force rather than respecting the First Amendment, especially following the brutal murder of George Floyd by four of their own, is disgraceful and an affront to our Constitution.”
The lawsuit also outlines a history of unconstitutional actions by the Minneapolis police against protestors, including a 2015 incident in which MPD deployed chemical irritants on protesters after the announcement that officer Matt Kenny would not be criminally charged in the killing Tony Robinson, an unarmed Black man. MPD also deployed irritants on protesters gathered near the fourth precinct in November of 2015, after the shooting of Jamar Clark.