Police officers used “brutal, violent and unconstitutional tactics” to quell protests over the killings of Blacks last summer, with victims claiming they were beaten with batons and sprayed with chemicals, alleges a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, reports USA Today. Attorneys with law clinics at Northwestern University and others filed the suit on behalf of 60 people who joined protests to bring national attention to the cases of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and others. “These 60 plaintiffs are multiracial, multigenerational and come from all walks of life. They all participated in various demonstrations throughout the city in the summer of 2020,” said attorney Vanessa del Valle. The suit names Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, along with 20 officers.
“While the plaintiffs were exercising their First Amendment rights to protest anti-Black police violence, Chicago police officers brutally hit them with batons, including strikes to the head, punched them in the face, tackled them to the ground, kneed and kicked them, dragged them through the streets, used chemical agents on them, and kettled them,” del Valle said. Officers also targeted protesters’ property – destroying cameras, phones, and eyeglasses and confiscating bikes, backpacks, and other belongings, the suit alleges. Officers “regularly called protesters vile and vulgar names, often using misogynistic and homophobic words” and “often affirmatively escalated encounters through taunts, shoves, pushes, and other inappropriate behavior at these protests,” the suit says. Brown has defended the actions of his officers, saying that the peaceful demonstration had been “hijacked by organized mobs.” Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the agency that investigates police misconduct, received 520 protest-related complaints between May 29 and the end of October. Since then, eight officers have been relieved of police powers, and 170 investigations are ongoing.