A woman has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis in which she claims she and her daughter were sprayed with a chemical respiratory irritant by a police officer while peacefully protesting the murder of George Floyd.
The woman alleges in the 10-page lawsuit that the “corral and combat” tactics used by Minneapolis police in response to the protests serve no purpose other than to injure those protesting peacefully.
According to the lawsuit, the officer sprayed the irritant out of the driver’s side window of his vehicle perpendicular to the path of the vehicle’s travel and after several cars had already freely navigated the street. The plaintiff, an African American woman, alleges the unidentified officer “was not attempting to clear a path for the vehicles but was instead using the irritant on the protestors located on and around the sidewalk area.”
The case says the encounter, in which the unidentified officer sprayed the crowd with irritant, was captured on camera and uploaded to social media websites. The plaintiff alleges the officer used the irritant in retaliation for the protestors’ opposition to police tactics.
“The protestors in question were fully peaceful and were not presenting any danger to others or to the Minneapolis police officers in the vehicles,” the lawsuit says.
According to the complaint, use of the chemical irritant caused the plaintiff and others to cough uncontrollably and remove facemasks worn to protect against the transmission of COVID-19. The woman claims she has suffered from labored breathing and chest pain that has interfered with her daily activities since the incident.
The lawsuit says the actions of the city of Minneapolis and certain police officers had the “chilling effect” of discouraging protestors from exercising their constitutionally protected rights to free speech and evidenced a “deliberate indifference” to the rights granted under the United States Constitution’s Eighth Amendment.
The case goes on to allege that Minneapolis police have tried in numerous instances to “corral and concentrate protestors using multiple forces to engage protestors from opposing directions.” Once protestors have been concentrated, the lawsuit says, police have “utilized tactics such as gassing the protestors, shooting them with non-lethal projectiles, and using percussion grenades to injure protestors such that they again disperse.”
“This ‘corral and combat’ strategy has no tactical purpose other than injuring otherwise peaceful protestors,” the lawsuit argues.
The lawsuit looks to represent a class of:
“All peaceful protestors who have been injured as a result of Defendants’ actions and who have thereafter been reluctant to speak out against police violence against citizens.”
The complaint, which seeks an injunction against the city prohibiting “further harassing, threatening, retaliating, intimidating, or otherwise tampering with” peaceful demonstrators, can be found below.
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