Fish & Richardson and ACLU of Minnesota File Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Peaceful Protesters Injured During George Floyd Protests
Jul 29, 2020
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Fish & Richardson and the ACLU of Minnesota filed a class-action lawsuit today on behalf of protesters who were injured during peaceful demonstrations over the murder of George Floyd. The lawsuit was filed against the City of Minneapolis, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, Police Lieutenant Bob Kroll, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, and Minnesota State Patrol Colonel Matthew Langer in U.S. District Court in the Minnesota District.
The lawsuit alleges that the Minneapolis Police and the Minnesota State Patrol used unnecessary and excessive force to suppress people's First Amendment rights to assemble peacefully and speak out against injustice. Peaceful protesters were tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed and shot with foam bullets and flashbangs to intimidate them and squash the protests. Law enforcement often fired without constitutionally sufficient warning or orders to leave, thereby violating their due process rights.
All four of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit – Nekima Levy Armstrong, Marques Armstrong, Terry Hempfling, and Rachel Clark – sustained injuries that remain now, two months later. The lawsuit seeks a declaration that police conduct violated the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, an injunction and an award of damages and attorneys' fees.
"Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and due process of law are bedrock principles of a democratic and free society. The police in Minnesota, and throughout our country, should be protecting and serving those who exercise their rights under these laws, not impeding and chilling such actions," said Fish & Richardson principal Ahmed J. Davis, who is leading the case with senior principal Michael Florey and associates Veena Tripathi and Excylyn Hardin-Smith. "Every person in this country should be able to peacefully protest without fear of injury or harm, and we plan to continue fighting for these basic constitutional and human rights."
The lawsuit also outlines a sustained history of unconstitutional actions by the Minneapolis police against protesters, and an ongoing failure to train, supervise, investigate, and discipline officers for First Amendment violations.
"No one should face 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. We will keep fighting for the right to protest and make change."
Pro bono work is an integral part of Fish's professional culture and now more than ever the firm is dedicated to supporting those in need. In June, Fish launched a Racial Justice Initiative, which includes increasing the firm's focus on racial justice pro bono and community engagement. Over the past year, nearly 75% of the firm's attorneys have participated in pro bono projects. In April, Fish helped the ACLU of Minnesota win a pro bono voting rights case that gives voters the right to get assistance from the person of their choice at the polls.
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