It’s about time!
About DAMN time, if I do say so myself.
I never thought in my lifetime we’d ever see multiple major U.S. cities overrun and shut down by a terrorist, occupying force.
But we did.
In multiple cities across the United States we saw businesses burned, windows bashed, stores looted, and Autonomous Zones rising up in once-great American cities.
In my day, an “Autonomous Zone” was called TREASON against the United States and it would have been wiped off the face of the map.
But at least now American cities are starting to fight back.
And DEMOCRAT cities, no less!
If I gave you 10 guesses as to which major U.S. city would sue BLM leaders for civil conspiracy, you’d probably spend 8 of our guesses on Texas cities.
And you’d be wrong.
How long would it take you to guess Detroit?
But sure enough it’s true:
The city of Detroit is suing Black Lives Matter protesters after a group of organizers sued the local government.
Detroit's suit alleges that demonstrators who participated in the racial justice protests this summer were a part of a "civil conspiracy." https://t.co/9z1ilFxsZq
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) December 22, 2020
From the Washington Examiner:
The city of Detroit is suing Black Lives Matter protesters after a group of organizers sued the local government.
Detroit’s suit alleges that demonstrators who participated in the racial justice protests this summer were a part of a “civil conspiracy” in which they attempted “to disturb the peace, engage in disorderly conduct, incite riots, destroy public property,” and resist police orders, among other “illegal acts.” The suit was filed in September, about a month after activists filed their own suit, alleging Detroit police officers “repeatedly responded with violence,” according to the Intercept.
The city has accused the protesters of defaming police officers, although the city isn’t suing for defamation outright.
It also claims the protesters, specifically the umbrella collective, Detroit Will Breathe, shouldn’t be considered as protected under the First Amendment because “the protests in Detroit have repeatedly turned violent, endangering the lives of police and the public.” The city has pointed to officers injured during protests to support this claim, which it says include “cracked vertebrae, lacerations, and concussions,” however, the city does not specify how each injury occurred or who injured them.
The filings allege multiple times that demonstrators were “destroying and defacing public property,” however only two examples are given, a broken police car window and a spray-painted statue.
Detroit Police Department Chief James Craig, who was named as a defendant in the protesters’ suit, has called the demonstrators “criminals” and “misguided radicals” who “incite violence.” He has also accused the group of being “coordinated,” “planned,” and “financed” by “a Marxist ideology” trying to “undermine our government as we know it,” in an interview with Fox & Friends in September.
The protesters’ original lawsuit included detailed allegations and led a judge to grant a temporary order designed to limit police officers’ use of force “including the use of striking weapons, chemical agents, and rubber bullets against demonstrators, medical support personnel, and legal observers.”
One protester participating in the suit alleges she was shot in the chest with a rubber bullet, piercing her skin. She alleges it happened after she was tear-gassed and beaten with a riot shield without provocation and says she suffered panic attacks in the months after it allegedly took place. Another female protester claimed she experienced migraines for weeks after an officer pushed her to the pavement and trampled her, during which she suffered a head injury. Other protesters detail claims of violence resulting in a fractured pelvis, a broken rib, and a collapsed lung.
Many city officials and leaders, including Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, have denounced the city’s countersuit.
“It’s just another blatant attempt to silence and intimidate us,” said Lauren Rosen, a plaintiff and organizer with Detroit Will Breathe, according to the Intercept. “Except now … they want to do it through the courts instead of in the streets.”
Detroit Sues Back Lives Matter Movement For ‘Civil Conspiracy’ And Other ‘Illegal Acts’ https://t.co/2LrEDdTfGH
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) December 22, 2020
Detroit’s Black Lives Matter demonstrators are part of a “civil conspiracy,” the city’s countersuit alleges.
The countercomplaint asks the court to issue judgments declaring that protesters “defamed” the mayor and police, and to award the city damages. https://t.co/VLTDdXrLgC
— The Intercept (@theintercept) December 22, 2020
Here’s more, with some excellent reporting from The Intercept:
The city’s countersuit claims that Detroit Will Breathe activists made false statements about cops — evidence, the city says, of a “civil conspiracy” and that protesters “defamed” Detroit police (though the city clarified in a recent filing that it isn’t suing outright for defamation). But many of the assertions to which the city points seem to be political statements rather than factual inaccuracies. In one instance, the city claims that Nakia Wallace, a Detroit Will Breathe leader, “falsely characterized [Detroit police] officers” by posting on Twitter about the “murderous and brutal nature of the Detroit Police Department.” In another, it claims that a Detroit Will Breathe member “falsely” described the “‘mentality’” of Detroit police as one of “‘the wild, wild West.’”
The countercomplaint also accuses Detroit Will Breathe of peddling a “false narrative to rile the public” about the fatal police shooting of 20-year-old Hakim Littleton in July, noting that body and dashcam footage released the day of the killing “shows the man fire a gun at an officer before police shot him.” Missing from the city’s account is the key reason people are still protesting the incident: Video suggests that police landed most of their shots on Littleton, including one apparently to the head, after tackling him to the ground and kicking his gun away.
The city’s lawsuit also nitpicks Detroit Will Breathe members’ characterization of the police violence they’ve endured, like when an officer placed Wallace in a chokehold during a protest on the day of Littleton’s killing. Despite a photo showing a helmeted officer with her flexed arm wrapped tightly around Wallace’s throat, the countercomplaint and an earlier filing take issue with the use of the word “chokehold.” The city claims that, while arresting Wallace, the officer “lost her hold, which caused her arms to momentarily touch Wallace’s neck.” The amount of time the officer’s arm was around Wallace’s neck “was far too brief” to fit the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of a chokehold, the city asserts, and Detroit Will Breathe’s “improper use of this incendiary term demonstrates their desire to falsely alarm the public and the Court.”
“She took me down with very clear intentions — I couldn’t breathe,” Wallace told The Intercept. The chokehold denial is just one of many “ridiculous arguments you would not expect somebody who works for city government to make.”
An organization called the National Police Association has filed the only friend-of-the-court brief in support of the city’s arguments. Despite its official-sounding name, the National Police Association is a small “Blue Lives Matter” ideological group with no apparent law enforcement connections. (Association President Ed Hutchison told The Intercept he was unaware that “law enforcement backgrounds are required to operate” a nonprofit.) According to the association’s website, it aims to “fight back against cop-haters,” implement “‘Broken Windows’ policing policy for all state and local agencies,” and authorize “local law enforcement officers to perform federal immigration law enforcement functions.” The Bopp Law Firm, a Terre Haute, Indiana-based practice “dedicated to the advancement of conservative Republican principles,” assisted with the brief.
“I think [the countersuit] is much more political than legal,” said Julie Hurwitz, an attorney representing Detroit Will Breathe on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild. “The city is seeking to do whatever it can to discredit the extremely effective organizing that’s been going on in the city of Detroit.”
In response to a list of questions about the countersuit, the city of Detroit’s principal attorney, Corporation Counsel Lawrence Garcia, told The Intercept, “We prefer not to comment on active litigation.”
IN ASSERTING A “civil conspiracy,” the city’s countersuit also alleges that “the protests in Detroit have repeatedly turned violent, endangering the lives of police and the public” — and because of this, Detroit Will Breathe’s demonstrations shouldn’t be considered First Amendment-protected activities.
The city claims that, during four protests, activists injured Detroit police officers by throwing objects at them and resisting arrest; an earlier court filing claims that the injuries include “cracked vertebrae, lacerations, and concussions.” But the documents provide no details on how each injury occurred, and whom among the protesters caused the injuries. The filings also repeatedly claim that protesters were “destroying and defacing public property,” but give only two examples: a police car window shattered on an unspecified date and a statue of a slave owner spray-painted in September. The countersuit’s most detailed accusations of Detroit Will Breathe’s “unlawful” behavior center on activists repeatedly ignoring police orders to disperse.
Detroit Will Breathe’s complaint, by contrast, includes extensive details on the violent actions of Detroit police officers. One protester named in the suit claims that she was shot in the chest with a rubber bullet, which pierced her skin and tissue, after being tear-gassed and beaten with a riot shield without provocation; she experienced panic attacks for months after. Another protester claims that she suffered a head injury after being pushed to the pavement and trampled; she experienced migraines for weeks. Another had her pelvis fractured when a cop hit her with a baton; a doctor advised her not to walk for several months. Another suffered a broken rib and collapsed lung when an officer beat him over the back. Two got concussions when an officer hit them over the head with their baton. Others describe being tackled, beaten, pepper-sprayed, and tear-gassed on multiple occasions.
Rosen, the Detroit Will Breathe organizer, suffered ear damage after police blasted her with a Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD, also known as a sound cannon. “I experienced vertigo, dizziness, nausea, tinnitus,” she told The Intercept. For days she had difficulty sleeping and eating, “and because of not being able to really eat and the stress, I lost a significant amount of weight.”
Based on the disparity between the city’s open-ended allegations of unlawfulness and the protesters’ detailed complaints of police brutality, Detroit Will Breathe filed a motion to dismiss the city’s countersuit at the end of October. That motion is still being litigated.
“The law is very well settled that when you’re going to bring a claim, you need to be able to back it up, and you need to be able to back it up on its face,” said Amanda Ghannam, another lawyer representing Detroit Will Breathe on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild. “They’re just going with these really broad brush strokes trying to paint the entire movement as lawless and violent.”
A FIGHT OVER the countersuit is currently brewing in the Detroit City Council’s internal operations committee, which oversees and issues recommendations on city funding decisions.
In order to continue work on the Detroit Will Breathe lawsuit, Garcia, the city’s attorney, has asked the council and the committee to approve an extension and expansion of a contract with the private law firm, Clark Hill, assisting his office with the litigation. The proposal would add the Detroit Will Breathe case, an additional year, and an added $200,000 to a preexisting five-case, $150,000 contract, according to a memo from the city council’s legislative policy division obtained by The Intercept.
During a November 18 internal operations committee meeting, nearly 20 people, many organized by Detroit Will Breathe, called in to denounce the city’s countersuit and oppose the contract.
“This is an attack on racial justice movements, and it’s a really egregious thing to spend public money on,” said one of the callers. Garcia responded to the concerns by portraying the counterclaim as a routine move. “The city files these types of countersuits when it’s legally advisable to do so,” he said.