Baton Rouge Police Sued Over Rough Protest Response

ACLU and others claim excessive force, verbal abuse, and wrongful arrests.

Baton Rogue and state officers arrested dozens of protesters over the weekend.Max Becherer/AP

The ACLU of Louisiana, along with the state chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and several Baton Rouge community groups that have been protesting last week’s police shooting death of Alton Sterling, have sued the Baton Rouge Police Department over its militarized response to the protesters.

The lawsuit alleges that officers used excessive force, verbally abused demonstrators, and wrongfully arrested law-abiding protesters, legal observers, and journalists. The filing also claims the officers’ actions were an unconstitutional impediment to marchers’ First Amendment rights, and violated their constitutional right to protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Dozens were arrested in Baton Rogue over the weekend, including prominent Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKesson. Videos posted to social media showed Baton Rogue officers in full riot gear, armed with assault weapons. In one incident, officers stormed the front yard of a homeowner and arrested protesters assembled there, even though the homeowner had given them permission to take refuge on her property. Protests also erupted in St. Paul, Minnesota, and numerous big cities coast to coast, in response to last week’s highly publicized police shooting of Philando Castile in a Minnesota suburb. Read the full lawsuit below.