BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A hearing has been set in connection to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Louisiana and other groups against the Baton Rouge Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies as attorneys for both sides met in federal court Thursday.
The lawsuit claims that police violated the First Amendment rights of the demonstrators who were peacefully protesting. Several protests were held across Baton Rouge following the death of Alton Sterling.
In the lawsuit, it alleges that officers used excessive force, wrongful arrests, and both physical and verbal abuse to break up the protests.
The lawyers for the plaintiffs in the suit filed for a temporary restraining order against the defendants, which includes the city of Baton Rouge, BRPD, Louisiana State Police, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, and several law enforcement officials.
The temporary restraining order would prevent those parties from interfering with demonstrators' constitutionally protected right to peacefully protest in the future.
A two-day hearing for the temporary restraining order will be held at some point during the week of July 25.
"With Alton Sterling being laid to rest tomorrow, it's likely that people will continue to gather in protest of his killing," said Marjorie Esman, executive director of ACLU of Louisiana. "We're hopeful that today's preliminary conversations will lead to protection for any peaceful protest which may occur in the coming days."
Col. Mike Edmonson has stood by the actions of law enforcement, saying a local pawn shop burglary was linked to a threat against officers. He said the department took the threat seriously and that is what prompted the show of force.
Esman said the distrust between law enforcement and the community comes from the public's perception of the departments and she believes it is up to police to reduce the existing tension.
"They need to take the first step to heal the damage and they're not going to do that by showing up in riot gear picking a fight with people at the end of a protest," she said Wednesday.
Esman hopes the lawsuit will change how officers handle peaceful demonstrations going forward.