The city of Detroit has filed a lawsuit against Black Lives Matter activists, claiming that the group organized a ‘civil conspiracy’ and the protests in the city “have repeatedly turned violent, endangering the lives of police and the public.”
The Detroit Police Department and the city itself are suing Detroit Will Breathe, an umbrella organization of BLM activists. The city claims the organization engaged in a civil conspiracy to incite riots, destroy property and commit acts of violence against police officers during the summer protests and the city should be awarded damages.
The lawsuit alleges that injuries to police officers included “cracked vertebrae, lacerations, and concussions,” according to The Intercept.
Detroit Will Breathe’s claims that the demonstrations should be protected under the First Amendment, the report said.
The lawsuit was filed earlier this year, as a counter claim after DWB activists sued the city in late August, alleging that police officers “repeatedly responded with violence” when demonstrators protested.
The countersuit has already been met with criticism from local politicians, including Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), who called the countersuit ‘an unthinkable assault on constitutional rights,’ the Intercept reports.
“It’s just another blatant attempt to silence and intimidate us,” said Lauren Rosen, a plaintiff and organizer with Detroit Will Breathe, according to the Intercept. “Except now … they want to do it through the courts instead of in the streets.”
In September, following the protesters’ lawsuit a temporary order was issued by a court to prevent DPD from using batons, shields, rubber bullets and other use of force.
Police Chief James Craig responded to the order at the time by saying his officers have only used force when protesters weren’t peaceful.
“If someone is resisting arrest, or trying to attack our officers, we will use the force that’s both reasonable and necessary to overcome the resistance,” he told the Detroit News at the time. “We don’t want the protesters injured, and we don’t want officers injured, either.”
The protesters have been backed by national legal groups in their response to the city’s lawsuit and are seeking an appeal with the City Council to cut the funding for the city’s litigation. One council member has vocalized her opposition to the countersuit.
The city has also received support, the report notes, including from the National Police Association.