Lawsuit filed after Sterling protest controversy ends with agreement for future policy

Lawsuit filed after Sterling protest controversy ends with agreement for future policy

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A lawsuit brought by advocacy groups against law enforcement agencies in East Baton Rouge Parish has ended with an agreement between all parties regarding the way in which protests will be enforced in the future.

Court records show that a Memorandum of Understanding Regarding was filed on Tuesday, November 29. The four-page document outlines the protocol and procedures regarding free speech activities on the part of both protesters and law enforcement. View the full document here.

"The parties recognize the rights of all persons to assemble and engage in the public for the purpose of peaceful public discourse and protest," states the memorandum.

The ACLU and four other advocacy groups filed the lawsuit Wednesday, July 13, 2016 in reaction to criticism and accusations of use of excessive force by law enforcement during certain protests that occurred in the days following the shooting death of Alton Sterling.

"The lawsuit alleges and details how police used excessive force, physical abuse, verbal abuse, and wrongful arrests to disperse protesters who were gathered peacefully to speak out against the police killing of Alton Sterling," stated co-counsel and New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice staff attorney Sima Atri. "A settlement indicates law enforcement's recognition of improper policing in response to racial justice protests and we hope that this binding agreement will hold law enforcement to a higher standard that respects communities' lawful right to protest."

The Memorandum also outlines the requirements of protesters and the way in which law enforcement will react if the actions are not followed.

"If assemblies involving the obstruction of traffic are planned or desired, those plans should be communicated in advance to the law enforcement parties using existing permitting mechanisms so that such thoroughfares can be closed and traffic redirected, to the extent possible. Law enforcement will assist any person or group willing to employ permit processes just as they do throughout the year for major parades, festivals, and other large assemblies. In the event that persons are found attempting to obstruct traffic on a roadway that has not closed for the purpose of assembly, they will be asked to remove themselves from the roadway. Anyone refusing to move or anyone reentering the roadway after a directive has been issued to stay out of the roadway may face criminal consequences."

The advocacy organizations included in the lawsuit are North Baton Rouge Matters, The Black Youth Project-New Orleans Chapter, New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice, The Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers' Guild, and the ACLU.

The law enforcement agencies involved in the lawsuit include the Baton Rouge Police Department, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, the Louisiana State Police. Additionally, the City of Baton Rouge was named as a defendant.

To read the full suit, click here.

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