ACLU of Indiana and Indy10 Seek Court Order Barring Use of Chemical Weapons on Protesters

Affiliate: ACLU of Indiana
June 18, 2020 6:00 am

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INDIANAPOLIS — Protesters who were attacked with tear gas and other weapons by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) while demonstrating against police brutality sued the City of Indianapolis today to immediately stop the use of chemical agents and projectiles on protesters.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Indy10 Black Lives Matter and individual protesters by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

In recent weeks, IMPD has fired tear gas, pepper balls, and other weapons on protesters during numerous demonstrations following the deaths of Dreasjon Reed in Indianapolis and George Floyd in Minneapolis. The lawsuit, Indy10 Black Lives Matter et al. v. City of Indianapolis, argues that the use of chemical agents and projectiles for crowd control violate the First Amendment.

“Excessive use of force against protesters chills free speech, and widens the rift of distrust between communities and the police that are sworn to serve them,” said Ken Falk, legal director at the ACLU of Indiana. “Indianapolis should instead listen to demonstrators, build community trust, and transform policing and the criminal legal system.”

The lawsuit comes after IMPD deployed chemical irritants and used rubber bullets and batons against protesters throughout downtown Indianapolis on May 29, 30 and 31. The protests were marred by IMPD officers taking violent and unwarranted actions against peaceful protesters who were not engaged in any unlawful activity.

“Born out of frustration, grief, and rage, demonstrations in Indianapolis have amplified the voice of the community and the demands of the brokenhearted: for police to stop weaponizing their badges and budgets against Black people, and for the city of Indianapolis to defund the police force and reinvest in its residents,” said Indy10 Black Lives Matter. “City leadership must commit to no further harm being done to demonstrators, and to ban the use of excessive force, including pepper pellets, tear gas and flashbang grenades, as well as condemn and discipline officers who destroy demonstrator’s medical supplies. The onus for repairing harm is on city leadership and IMPD, and they would do well to lending their efforts towards policy reform and addressing the use of force policies as well as holding officer’s accountable.”

This lawsuit joins a number of legal actions the ACLU has been taking around the country in response to escalating law enforcement attacks on journalists and protesters, including suing President Trump and other administration officials for firing of tear gas on protesters outside the White House on June 1.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

The full release can be found here.

The complaint can be found here.

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