LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Black Lives Matter-LA announced today an updated federal civil lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department and its chief, alleging the mass detention of about 3,000 peaceful protesters, held handcuffed on buses without access to bathroom facilities, water or food, was a violation of their rights under the U.S. and California constitutions.
The 59-page amended complaint includes graphic photos of alleged protester injuries from rubber bullets and police batons, as well as descriptions of protesters who were held in buses in cramped conditions without access to bathrooms, and injuries from too-tight handcuffs.
The lawsuit, filed Sunday in Los Angeles, seeks damages on behalf of all protesters in the city who were allegedly subject to those conditions, as well as injunctive relief to stop the police practices at future demonstrations.
An LAPD spokesperson said the department does not comment on pending litigation.
According to BLM-LA, while protesters were peacefully engaged in lawful First Amendment protests triggered by the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, “the LAPD used force to terminate the protests, including the indiscriminate use of `less lethal' weapons that caused injury.''
The suit, also filed on behalf of the Los Angeles Community Action Network and two of its members, alleges the LAPD's use of “kettling,'' a crowd-control tactic in which protesters were kept “tightly handcuffed on buses for hours'' -- without access to bathrooms, food or water -- violated their civil rights.
The complaint, which updates the original June 5 lawsuit, contains the alleged accounts of protesters detained in large groups during protests over six nights from May 29 to June 3.
Protesters said they were transported to LAPD jails around the city. All were held on buses or off-loaded into garages and similar facilities, where they were held handcuffed behind their backs, protesters allege.
“All members of the arrest class were held in this manner for a minimum of several hours, with some held more than 12 hours in these excruciatingly painful conditions,'' the lawsuit states. “The class members experienced numbness in their hands and requests to loosen the zip ties or remove them went unanswered. Without access to bathrooms, arrestees were compelled to urinate on themselves.''
The complaint, filed by the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles on behalf of the plaintiffs, contends that LAPD's actions further “interfered with BLM-LA's right to assembly and speech.'' The plaintiffs seek a court order halting the “practices, policies, and customs'' of the police responding to future gatherings.
The proposed class would include at least 10,000 individuals who BLM-LA alleges were “struck by so-called `rubber bullets' and/or baton strikes administered without lawful justification,'' contrary to proper use, to inflict maximum injury.
The plaintiffs also allege the demonstrations did not fall under the definition of an unlawful assembly -- even as law enforcement declared the BLM-LA protests as such.
The LAPD and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti “applied a ham-handed approach, silencing everyone. Nearly 3,000 people were arrested as a result,'' the lawsuit alleges.
The American Civil Liberties Union also previously filed suit in federal court against the city and county of Los Angeles on behalf of BLM-LA, protesters, journalists and others, describing the curfews imposed throughout Southern California as “draconian'' and unconstitutional.
ACLU claims the curfews were a violation of the First Amendment because they suppressed all political protest in the evening hours, and restrictions against movement outside of working hours is a violation of the constitution's protection of freedom of movement.
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