In at least one city, the fighting in the streets over the summer has evolved into conflict in the courts.
The city of Detroit has filed a countersuit against Black Lives Matter leaders, alleging the demonstrators who took to the streets following the death of George Floyd are part of a “civil conspiracy.”
According to the countersuit, the Detroit demonstrators “conspired to disturb the peace, engage in disorderly conduct, incite riots, destroy public property, resist or obstruct officers in charge of duty, or otherwise commit acts of violence” against police officers.
The countersuit also says protesters “defamed” the mayor and police and asked the court to award the city damages.
The counter-complaint was filed in September, but is getting new attention thanks to an article sympathetic to the protesters that was published by the website The Intercept on Monday.
The suit is the first of its kind since the Black Lives Matter movement swept the country this summer, The Intercept reported.
It came in response to an August complaint from the Black Lives Matter movement collective Detroit Will Breathe that alleged police used “unnecessary, unreasonable, and excessive force” when they tried to control the protests and asked a judge to keep police from using “tools of excessive force.”
In September, a federal court issued temporary orders restricting the use of force, like chemical weapons, sound cannons and rubber bullets, and the city responded with its countersuit.
The countersuit from the Detroit Police Department, Chief James Craig, the City of Detroit and Mayor Michael Duggan states the activists “falsely characterized [Detroit police] officers” in Twitter statements.
In particular, the suit points to a tweet from leader Nakia Wallace about the “murderous and brutal nature of the Detroit Police Department.”
I can’t for the life of me understand the type of person who has not yet woken up to understand the murderous and brutal nature of the Detroit Police Department. 😔 Another Black Man Was Lynched last night.
— Nakia Wallace (@NakiaRWallace) July 24, 2020
The city also accused the movement of pushing a “false narrative to rile the public” in its discussions of the shooting of 20-year-old Hakim Littleton — a case in which police say that body and dashcam footage “shows the man fire a gun at an officer before police shot him.”
“It is as disturbing as it is heartbreaking that in 2020, in a city where every corner is a reminder of those fights for racial, economic and social justice, city and police leaders are meeting protesters with violence and intimidating rhetoric meant to turn the public against our own young people who are demanding a better future for us all,” she wrote.
“It is even more appalling that those who took an oath of office to serve the people are aiding and abetting in their suppression.”
In an interview with The Intercept, protest leader Tristan Taylor said the city’s actions “are a way of attempting to minimize our ability to go on the offensive and call for transparency and accountability.”
“When you resist, and there is video that supports our claim, I mean, you can see in the video where protesters are literally grabbing on officers so they can free their comrades from being arrested. That’s not peaceful,” Craig said.
“That’s resisting a lawful arrest. The judge also includes arrests must be made on probable cause. That’s exactly what we were doing, and so, I’m confident we’re going to continue to move forward.”
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