Protesters Against Police Violence Sue Chicago Police for Racially Motivated Police Violence

November 19, 2020

Protesters Against Police Violence Sue Superintendent Brown, CPD and City of Chicago for Racially Motivated Police Violence

60 People – – including members of Black Lives Matter, #LetUsBreathe Collective, GoodKids MadCity – – join together to file an unprecedented lawsuit seeking justice after they were viciously attacked by Chicago Police Officers at the historic protests against racist police violence this summer. 

60 protesters have joined together to file a civil rights lawsuit against Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, other Chicago Police Officers and the City of Chicago for the violence they all endured when they were exercising their constitutional rights protesting anti-Black police violence at the protests in Chicago this summer. 

The Plaintiffs filed a 200+ page legal complaint in federal court alleging they were repeatedly attacked by Chicago Police Officers who unjustifiably beat them with batons, tear gassed and pepper sprayed them, tackled them to the ground, and kettled them on public streets without giving them the required orders to disperse. The Plaintiffs alleged they were attacked and beaten in strikingly similar ways at eight different protests that occurred over the summer, in the Loop, Hyde Park, Grant Park, Uptown, and Old Town, on May 29-31, June 1, July 17, and August 15, 2020.  

The Plaintiffs are represented by People’s Law Office attorneys Joey L. Mogul, Ben Elson, Janine Hoft, Jan Susler, and Brad Thomson, along with Vanessa Del Valle of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center; Sheila A. Bedi of the Community Justice and Civil Rights Clinic at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law; Brendan Shiller, Sierra Reed, Tia Haywood, and Wayne Slaughter of Shiller Preyar Jarard & Samuels. 

Miracle Boyd, a member of GoodKids MadCity, is one of the Plaintiffs who was viciously attacked when punched in the face by a Chicago Police Officer causing her to lose two teeth, when attending the Black, Indigenous Solidarity Rally (Decolonize Zhigaagoong) in Grant Park on July 17, 2020, said “CPD used violence to try to stop our movement. But we won’t be silenced. This lawsuit is about holding police accountable for all the harm they inflicted on us this summer. But it’s also about the righteousness of our demand to defund CPD. We need to invest in our communities, not police who beat young people trying to remake their world.” 

Many of the protesters suffered concussions or broken bones after being repeatedly hit with batons on their heads and other parts of their bodies, requiring medical treatment. Several Plaintiffs needed stitches to bind the gaping wounds in their heads and on their bodies. Others sustained bruises that lasted for weeks.  [See the complaint for pictures of injuries].

“Chicago Police Officers used lethal force, time and time again this summer, when they repeatedly hit protestors on their heads with their batons.  This excessive force was not only unconstitutional, and illegal, but violates the CPD’s own policies regarding the use of “impact weapons,” said Plaintiff’s lawyer Joey Mogul of the People’s Law Office.   These officers need to be fired from the CPD so they cannot harm any others, and the City needs to compensate people for these substantial injuries. 

Adding insult to serious injuries, many protesters were also falsely arrested and charged with crimes or violations of Chicago municipal ordinances based on false allegations, resulting in their prolonged detention in CPD lock ups amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  All the charges/violations brought against these plaintiffs have been dismissed. 

The complaint also alleges that the CPD effectuated racially motivated arrests of protesters, even though the protests were attended by multi-racial crowds of people, the majority of whom were white.  According to CPD records, during the initial weekend of protests (May 29 – 31), CPD arrested 2,172 people and 70% of those arrested were Black, even though Black people compromise only 32% of the City of Chicago.

“During this summer’s uprisings, CPD used every tool they had to beat us, detain us, to punish us for demanding a world without police. Police officers brutalized me, pushed around my children, and left my friends laying in the street covered in their own blood. said Amika Tendaji, Lead Organizer for Black Lives Matter Chicago. This kind of violence can’t be reformed. This isn’t about a lack of training. It’s about policing being rotten to the core.” 

Chicago Police Officers also regularly took or destroyed protesters’ personal property, including their bicycles, cameras, eyeglasses, goggles, backpacks, and phones.  Some were deprived of medication while locked up resulting in further unnecessary injuries.

An astronomical number of complaints alleging Chicago Police Officers engaged in brutality and misconduct at the summer protests have been filed with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (“COPA”). Of the 520 complaints received, 58% of those complaints alleged Chicago Police Officers used excessive force and 9% alleged verbal abuse. The number of protest complaints is so large that COPA formed a specialized team of investigators solely dedicated to investigating these allegations.  As a result of COPA’s preliminary investigations into the protest complaints, it referred 5 officers to state/federal law enforcement for potential criminal prosecution and has recommended that 8 officers be assigned to modified duty and/or be relieved of police power, but no other officers involved in protest-related abuses have been disciplined thus far. 

“These systemic and ongoing violations continue unabated and undeterred despite the City of Chicago being subject to a Consent Decree for almost two years.  CPD’s failure to comply with the Consent Decree deadlines coupled with its consistently illegal and violent response to the summer 2020 protests demonstrate that the Consent Decree has entirely failed to create any meaningful change in the CPD,” said Sheila A Bedi, one of the lawyers representing the Plaintiffs.

This past summer tens of thousands of people coalesced to protest the unrelenting anti-Black police violence plaguing Chicago and the nation. In doing so, they made history by joining the largest social justice movement the U.S. has ever experienced. The complaint alleges that the CPD and other City agencies responded to these demonstrations with brutal, violent, and unconstitutional tactics that were clearly intended to injure, silence, and intimidate Plaintiffs and other protesters from protesting CPD and other police officers’ racially motivated violence. The CPD also consistently targeted protest leaders, marshals, legal observers, medics, and individuals recording the demonstrations with unlawful, retaliatory, and lethal force.

The lawyers argue that CPD’s response to the summer 2020 protests is consistent with the CPD’s long-standing policies and practices of using abusive tactics and excessive force against protesters for progressive social change.  The lawsuits notes the violence protestors suffered at the hands of Chicago Police Officers when they demanded fair labor practices in 1877; spoke against racism and segregation prior to the 1919 race riots; protested the Vietnam war at the 1968 Democratic National Convention; opposed housing discrimination in 1977; opposed the Gulf War in 1990; acted up for people with HIV/AIDs in 1990s and early 2000s; opposed the Iraq War in 2003; and held a counter demonstration to then Presidential candidate Trump’s scheduled rally at UIC in 2016. 

The lawsuit also documents how costly police violence is for the City of Chicago and how much taxpayer money is expended to compensate people for their pain and suffering and wasted paying law firms to defend the indefensible. The most recent civil rights class action brought on behalf of those beaten and detained en masse at the infamous anti-Iraq war demonstration on March 20, 2003, cost the City of Chicago approximately $15 million, with the plaintiffs receiving over $6.4 million in settlement awards. Around $9 million was paid to attorneys for the plaintiffs and outside counsel hired by the City to defend the CPD and City in fees and costs.  

You can read the complaint here.