BLM protesters file class action lawsuit against Phoenix
The People’s Law Firm has filed a federal class action lawsuit against Phoenix for 124 protest arrests made in May 2020.
The lawsuit comes after judges in Phoenix dismissed charges against hundreds of detained protesters. They found no credibility in the arrests since the probable cause statements or the reasons for the arrests had been “copied and pasted” for the 124 people arrested on May 30, 2020.
In the trial, the defendants are listed as the City of Phoenix, Police Chief Jeri Williams, Lt. Benjamin Moore, the “Field Force Commander”, Sgt. Douglas McBride of the Tactical Response Unit and Phoenix Police Department Commander Dennis Orender.
Phoenix has hired 21CP Solutions, a consulting firm, to independently review the policies and procedures of the Phoenix Police Department when it comes to public protests, according to Phoenix communications director Daniel Wilson.
“The City is committed to the safety, security and constitutionally protected rights of all of its residents and visitors,” Wilson said in a statement.
As soon as Phoenix is served the complaint and considered it, Wilson explained, “he would file the appropriate response in accordance with the rules of civil procedure which govern all federal civil suits.”
Among other things, the lawsuit alleges gross negligence, indiscriminate use of force and violations of First and Fourth Amendment rights after police arrested people without cause.
One of the organizers arrested on May 30 was Maxima Guerrero Sanchez. The recipient of the deferred action for child arrivals spoke of being turned over to immigration and customs police after her arrest was dismissed.
She explained that she and others were shackled at the wrists, waist and ankles – “the chains stuck in my heels,” she said – transferred to ICE custody, then said that they would be transferred to the Eloy detention center.
“These are examples of what the police department does and what they do without probable cause,” she said.
His story represented one of 23 stories of similar arrests filed in the complaint.
In a determined voice, Mimi Arrayaa, co-director of Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro, set out the background to the trial.
“Tuesday marked the first anniversary of the Dion Johnson and George Floyd murders by the violent system we call the police, “she said,” a year after community members marched through the streets in one of the biggest civil rights movements the world has ever seen. seen demanding justice for black lives taken too early by the state.
“A year and we still have people suffering false charges because of the Phoenix Police Department’s response to people saying black lives matter.”
She was also out to protest the night of the arrests.
“I was chased through the streets like an animal and pepperballs were thrown at me by the police for saying my black life matters and acting like that,” she said.
Billy Murphy Jr., of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, the firm that represented the Freddy Gray family in 2015 against the Boston police officers involved in his death, joined the people’s law firm as counsel in the case .
Murphy Jr. explained that they were in awe of the People’s Law Firm and the “outstanding young black and Latino leaders” in Phoenix, but it was the “ugly” and “cheeky” actions of the police that drew them. the attention of the cabinet.
“To accuse people who have committed no crime, to accuse them wrongly is an abomination,” he said. “Planning to arrest the leaders of the protest before they do anything wrong shows a level of bias and bravery that is difficult to overcome.”
The lawsuit exposes a history of force used on protesters by police from 2010 to 2020, which includes the use of pepper spray, pepper bullets, tear gas and other “projectiles,” claiming these actions have been abused and violate people’s First Amendment rights.
“You have a diet here that has always been like this and wants to stay that way. And there’s a new generation of young people out there who won’t allow that to happen,” Murphy said.
The lawsuit claims that this repetitive behavior by the police shows that the police were aware of their actions and were motivated to silence the protesters during the night of the arrests.
The company is seeking financial compensation for the plaintiffs and is seeking to prevent the city from repeating similar actions through an injunction.
Murphy explained the power class actions like these give to the community.
“We have the right to force them to admit the truth of things so as to make the revelation of the truth more likely,” he said. “We have the right to apply the law to these horrific facts so that the police and those who participated in the planning of the police response are brought to justice.”