Authorized Observers Sue Metropolis of Detroit, Alleging Civil Rights Violations Throughout Anti-Police Brutality Protest

Several lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild are suing the city of Detroit, Mayor Mike Duggan and Police Chief James Craig for violations of civil rights and due process.

The complaint alleges excessive police violence and violations of the First Amendment and due process rights, while the observers documented protests against police brutality carried out on-site by Detroit’s Will Breathe group last summer .

I believe that that night in particular, the police attacked violent law enforcement officers to prevent us from witnessing and documenting their brutality against nonviolent demonstrators. – Shannon McEvilly, one of the law enforcement officers suing the city of Detroit

At a press conference on Monday April 12th in Detroit Federal Court, lawyer Clarissa Grimes described her experience with the police during the August 22nd protest.

They hit me in the stomach with a baton so hard that I turned around, unable to move and unable to breathe. And when another lawyer saw me cough and gasp and tried to get out of the way, they sprayed us with pepper, ”Grimes recalls.

Russ McNamara /WDET

Police Chief James Craig

The law enforcement officers wore bright green hats to mark their status and did not take part in the protest marches. They said Detroit police had told them they could monitor protests without retaliation.

During each of these marches, the law enforcement officers observed the interactions between the police and the demonstrators. On several occasions, these interactions became violent.

Shannon McEvilly, of Detroit, is one of five law enforcement officers filing the lawsuit against the city. She says Police Chief James Craig tried to demonize the protesters by saying they were a threat to Detroiters.

I was not harassed or intimidated by anyone other than the police in these protests, and I was certainly never injured by anyone in a protest until I was injured by the police in my town, ”says McEvilly.

According to McEvilly, Detroit police intentionally molested those who documented the August 22nd protest.

I believe the police attacked violent law enforcement officers that night in particular to prevent us from witnessing and documenting their brutality against nonviolent demonstrators, ”she says.

During the protest, several demonstrators, lawyers and medics were injured by the police – one doctor suffered a collapsed lung.

According to Grimes, those documenting the protests followed police orders and were still being attacked by officers.

Chef Craig wants you to think so DPD represents law and order. He will try to tell you that if you just stick to his rules, nothing bad will happen to you. But on August 22nd, I played by his rules and DPD beat me up anyway, ”she says.

Legal observer Marie Reimers says her interactions with Detroit police officers traumatized her.

I no longer feel safe when I set my house alarm or call the police for a fender bender. Because after the events of that summer it became clear that the Detroit Police Department didn’t exist to help Detroiters but to terrorize us, ”she says.

Social justice group, Detroit Will Breathe, filed its own civil rights violation lawsuit by Detroit police.

WDET is still waiting for a comment from the Detroit Police.

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