Sterling protest lawsuit alleges long history of racial tension between community, law enforcement

Sterling protest lawsuit alleges long history of racial tension between community, law enforcement

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A federal lawsuit has been filed against the city of Baton Rouge on behalf of at least seven Baton Rouge residents.

The lawsuit filed by attorneys from the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center in New Orleans claims that arrests during protests were part of a pattern of "racist law enforcement" in the city. The factual grounds for the lawsuit go back to incidents that occurred in the 1970's and progresses to current day.

"At no time has the BRPD ever undertaken to address the problems of racial profiling and overt racial animus on the part of members of the BRPD, even though there is evidence that some officers hold such animus," states the lawsuit. "Instead, the BRPD, Chief Dababie and Mayor Holden chose to consciously disregard and cover up the prevalence of racist attitudes among BRPD officers."

The historical context seeks to frame the arrests that happened during a protest that was held outside BRPD headquarters in July 2016 regarding the shooting death of Alton Sterling.

"…as the protests began, the defendants created a plan to intimidate the protestors through the use of violent, militarized police tactics,, which included the use of batons, riot shields, armored vehicles, and armed officers. The defendants set out to arrest the protestors without probable cause, using the pretext that the protestors had violated a state law proscribing obstruction of highways and public roads."

A settlement was already reached in a different lawsuit that was filed on behalf of other protestors who were arrested. That lawsuit included Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson, who was among roughly 100 people arrested during a protest outside the Baton Rouge Police Headquarters.

Many of the charges against those protestors were dismissed by District Attorney Hillar Moore, III.

If approved, the award for that settlement would be up to $45,000 in payments to dozens of arrested protestors.

Additionally, a Baton Rouge Police officer filed a lawsuit against the national Black Lives Matter organization for injuries he sustained during a protest.

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