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NAACP, Protesters Sue San Jose Over Police Violence During Demonstrations

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- Attorneys representing several protestors who participated in demonstrations following the death of George Floyd sued the city of San Jose over brutal treatment at the hands of local police officers.

The suit, filed on behalf of the NAACP of San Jose/Silicon Valley, the San Jose Peace and Justice Center, as well as several demonstrators and observers, says the plaintiffs were "met by the City of San Jose with brutal and racially targeted repression" during the protests last May.

The violence perpetrated on the protestors during the four days of demonstrations violated the plaintiffs' first amendment rights, according to the 72-page lawsuit.

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A protester confronts San Jose police as they advance on Friday, May 29, 2020, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

"The actions of the San Jose Police Department's Command Staff that were involved are
inexcusable and warrant consequences. Their actions represent a dangerous precedent set forth by the racist, xenophobic, and prejudicial sentiment in our society against Black people," Rev. Jethroe Moore II, President of the NAACP of San Jose/Silicon Valley, said.

The lawsuit names San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, former Police Chief Eddie Garcia and a few San Jose Police officers as defendants.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs noted instances of attacks from police on demonstrators leading to significant injuries, including shooting them with rubber bullets, throwing "flashbang" grenades at them and hitting them with batons. The lead plaintiff, 49-year-old photographer Michael Acosta, said he lost an eye due to the police response to the protests.

"I was out running an errand when I happened to come across the protest and decided to
document what looked to be a historic event in my downtown San Jose neighborhood. At the time, while simply photographing the protest a block from my home, I never could have
imagined that I would be shot in the face and end up losing my eye," Acosta said.

Among other examples of police violence listed in the lawsuit include officers pushing a disabled woman and shooting her in the chest, and an Iranian participant being subjected to "anti-Muslim psychologial torture and harassment."

"SJPD shot two people in the eye, and at least four others in the groin, on May 29," Rachel Lederman, the plaintiffs' lead attorney, said. "Whether you call them 'foam rounds,' 'sponge rounds,' or 'bean bags,' the fact is that all of these so-called 'less lethal' projectiles are highly dangerous."

The plaintiffs are represented by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area and civil rights attorneys Rachel Lederman, James B. Chanin, and R. Michael Flynn.

San Jose Police and city officials declined comment on the lawsuit Thursday.

To read more about the lawsuit, download it here.

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