LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles filed suit Friday in federal court against the Los Angeles Police Department and Chief Michel Moore, alleging the recent mass detention of more than 2,600 peaceful protesters — held handcuffed on buses without access to bathroom facilities, water or food — was a violation of their rights under the US. and California constitutions.
The proposed class-action complaint alleges police used excessive force and violated the civil rights of the demonstrators who took to the streets to protest against police brutality after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis officers.
According to the suit, "the LAPD used force to terminate the protests, including the indiscriminate use of so-called 'less-lethal' weapons that caused injury" while protesters were peacefully engaged in lawful demonstrations.
The 23-page complaint also contains accounts of protesters who said they were detained in large groups and transported to LAPD jails around the city, held on buses or off-loaded into garages and similar facilities, where they were then detained with their hands zip-tied behind their backs.
"All members of the arrest class were held in this manner for a minimum of several hours, with some held more than 12 hours in these excruciatingly painful conditions," the lawsuit alleges. "The class members experienced numbness in their hands and requests to loosen the zip ties or remove them went unanswered. Without access to bathrooms, arrestees were compelled to urinate on themselves."
The complaint also alleges that LAPD's actions "interfered with BLM-LA's right to assembly and speech," and that the demonstrations did not fall under the definition of an unlawful assembly, even as law enforcement declared the protests as such.
The suit seeks unspecified damages, a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief on behalf of a class of thousands of protesters. The plaintiffs were also seeking a court order halting the "practices, policies and customs" of police responding to future gatherings.
An LAPD spokesperson said the department has a policy of declining comment on pending litigation.
The proposed class would include at least 10,000 people who were allegedly "struck by so-called 'rubber bullets' and/or baton strikes administered without lawful justification," contrary to proper use, to inflict maximum injury, BLM-LA said.
Kath Rogers, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles, said that at least 575 protesters have signed up with her organization for criminal defense after they were arrested and held "in terrible conditions."
On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the city and county of Los Angeles that describing the curfews imposed throughout Southern California as "draconian" and unconstitutional.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
for more features.