The ACLU of Louisiana joined with other local groups to file a lawsuit against the Baton Rouge Police Department Wednesday. The groups allege that police officers violated the rights of protesters in the wake of Alton Sterling‘s death. According to the lawsuit, officers broke up peaceful demonstrations by using excessive force, arresting people without probable cause, and attempting to provoke protestors with physical and verbal abuse.
Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, told reporters, “People were injured by police officers and some of them denied medical care as a result of these arrests, and it all came from the police showing up at what was the conclusion of a very peaceful event in riot gear really looking like they were ready to pick a fight.”
The lawsuit invokes the First Amendment rights of protestors to speech and assembly. Crystal Williams, a local organizer with North Baton Rouge Matters, stated that the police response made her afraid to protest. “Seeing the way the police were manhandling folks caused me to hide, scream out of fear, and finally flee for my safety,” she said. “I had to run. A peaceful demonstration should never be like that.”
(via CBS News affiliate WAFB)