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Protesters sue over alleged police brutality during two George Floyd protests, including the one that turned into a riot

Boston police body camera video of Jasmine Huffman

Bodycam video showing Huffman getting knocked down, from the complaint.

Four people who took part in a George Floyd vigil on Boston Common last May 31 have sued BPD and three specific officers for allegedly attacking them with batons and pepper spray as the rally ended and turned into several hours of looting that they say they had nothing to do with.

The lawsuit charges that BPD officers attacked marchers who had assembled outside the D-4 police station two nights earlier as a prelude to what would happen downtown with officers equipped with wooden batons and pepper spray, and that BPD policies make it very difficult for people to file complaints against officers

In the suit, filed in US District Court in Boston this morning, Jasmine Huffman, Justin Ackers, Caitlyn Hall and Benjamin Chambers-Maher summed up their case, which charges the officers with unreasonable use of force and depriving them of their First Amendment rights:

Each of the four plaintiffs went to Boston on May 31, 2020, to peacefully protest the injustice of George Floyd’s death. The plaintiffs were peaceful. They did not commit any crimes, nor were they arrested or charged with crimes.

Despite engaging in peaceful protest, each of the plaintiffs was physically attacked by Boston police officers. Officers struck three of the four plaintiffs with wooden riot batons. Officers sprayed two of the four plaintiffs with oleoresin capsicum (“OC”) (pepper) spray. Two plaintiffs required medical attention because of the Boston police officers’ baton strikes.

Officer Burke attacked Ms. Huffman as she stood still with her arms in the air. Officers attacked the other three plaintiffs after they tried to leave the area to go home. Mr. Ackers was trying to leave on his moped when Officer Burke struck him. Mr. Chambers-Maher was sprayed as he walked away from Officer McManus and other Boston police officers to get to his car. Ms. Hall was struck by Officer Nolan as she stood near the Downtown Crossing T station with her hands up; she had been planning to ride the T but the Boston police had caused the MBTA stations to shut down.

The suit alleges that Hall was protecting another protester when the cop attacking him turned toward her and whacked her hard enough with a baton to cause one of her teeth to puncture her lip.

They add they had nothing to do with the looting, that, in fact, three of them were simply trying to leave the area, but could not because police had essentially bottled them up in the area:

On May 31, after the protest at the Common ended, the people who gathered there to express their views, including Plaintiffs, were trying to leave. BPD officers were ordering people to leave the area.

At the same time that its officers were ordering people to leave the area, the BPD, in coordination with the MBTA, caused all of the T stations in the area to close. There were no Uber or Lyft drivers who could access the area. As a result, many of the people who came to protest were unable to leave the area on public transportation.

They add:

On May 14, 2021, Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey acknowledged that a “blue wall” of silence existed in the Boston Police Department, which prevented police officers from reporting misconduct by fellow officers. This policy or custom existed in the early 1990s and continued into 2021. Acting Mayor Janey said, “officers were intimidated into silence for fear of retaliation” during an investigation in 2021.

Because of this “blue wall” police officers in Boston felt free to use unreasonable and excessive force on protesters because they expected fellow officers would not report any misconduct and they knew that the police department would accept the word of a police officer over the word of a civilian.

The suit was filed by Howard Friedman, a Brookline attorney who specializes in police brutality and misconduct cases and Mark Loevy-Reyes, a Chicago attorney who also has a background in police-abuse cases.

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Comments

"There were no Uber or Lyft drivers who could access the area. As a result, many of the people who came to protest were unable to leave the area on public transportation."

Can't wait these ambulance chasers to sue snow next winter. Owing to the pandemic, there wasn't exactly a lot of Uber drivers in the area at any time.

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lick that boot

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No really, do.

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Can't wait for the implementation of a dislike button so I can give this Costello idiot thousands of "dislikes".

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Same would probably apply to dislike if Adam ever did it.

I would this Markk idiot one for each post of his. Based on your comments in the past, I might get carpal tunnel or actually sore lungs from laughing so hard at your lunacy.

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Officer Burke attacked Ms. Huffman as she stood still with her arms in the air. Officers attacked the other three plaintiffs after they tried to leave the area to go home. Mr. Ackers was trying to leave on his moped when Officer Burke struck him. Mr. Chambers-Maher was sprayed as he walked away from Officer McManus and other Boston police officers to get to his car.

A roving gang of heavily armed government officials physically attacked these peaceful protestors on camera. Since the state obviously has no interest in regulating their own thugs, the legal system is the only meager means of redress left to them. I'd hardly call that "ambulance chasing."

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They are claiming their rights were violated. They probably were, but to argue that they could not get home because Uber drivers could not get to the area is a silly stretch of legal arguing like arguing that there are aggressive geese in the Common that might harm their client.

It is like arguing that you couldn't go swimming because there was no water at the beach.

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to argue that they could not get home because Uber drivers could not get to the area is a silly stretch of legal arguing like arguing that there are aggressive geese in the Common that might harm their client

That's only one part of their argument. To dismiss their argument as if this were the entirety of it is intellectually dishonest.

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pretty much sums it up for our boy JC.

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You Did. Don't Deny It.

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stick to that

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The protesters were ordered to leave the area. How were they to do so?

1)Public transit - nope, can't do that, cops shut it down.
2)Cab or rideshare - nope, cops won't allow cabs or rideshare into the area.
3)Walk out - this, apparently, is what they were attempting to do when they were attacked by the cops for failing to disperse.

The cops placed a demand on them, then prevented them from complying, then assaulted them when they failed to comply. That is the essence of the suit.

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I agree that their rights were probably violated but to argue that their rights were being violated because they couldn't get a ride, is a legal stretch.

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Again, the absence of rideshare (caused by police action) was just part of the issue. It wouldn't have been an issue at all had the cops not shut down public transit. It wouldn't have been an issue if the cops had simply allowed people to disperse. You are attempting to paint the suit as preposterous based on one relatively small part of the complaint, taken out of context.

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Police in riot gear lined up shoulder to shoulder and blocked every exit from the Common, while other cops on bullhorns ordered everyone to leave, which was just legal cover for attacking the people who were desperately trying to leave and not being allowed to. I lost every ounce of trust or respect I ever had in police that evening. They're just uniformed thugs looking for an excuse to hurt people.

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Requires only a few footsteps from one neighborhood to the next.

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...the cops will let you walk there.

Looks like that was part of the issue here, hey?

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Ah, it would take me over 3 hours (from downtown to the little area sticking out on the aouthern boarder of Boston in Hyde Park.) to walk home and at night, I would not want to do that.

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There were people that were willing to walk away and they decided it would be safer to corner them?

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...yes.

You know why.

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Yes it was a bad idea as it made it harder for people to leave.

No it was not a bad idea because if the crowd that was hell bent on burning, and destroying decided to cause chaos in the stations it would be a mess.

Basically, when people turn to destruction, nobody wins.

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Seriously.

Crowd was trying to disperse after a peaceful protest, and the cops started rioting.

And you say "hell bent on burning"? Yes. Indeed. Your tax dollars at work.

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if the crowd that was hell bent on...

I just want to be clear that you are defending actual actions in that specific situation with hypothetical causes for that action, yes?

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The stations are literally bomb proof. How many championships have we all gone through? New Years Eves? You have never been to downtown crossing station if you think it would look different after any kind of mob went through.

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if the crowd that was hell bent on burning, and destroying decided to cause chaos in the stations it would be a mess.

And if your mother had wheels instead of legs, she'd be a bicycle.

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I've never heard a cleaner version of "If my uncle had tits, he'd be my aunt."

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I prefer my version. It avoids the ambiguous situation of moobs.

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Who got paid in this equation

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Is a terrific argument for stand your ground laws.

I’m not afraid of the person who got shoved to the ground here until I say that I am, and by then, it will too late for police to help me anyway.

Always ask: Who do police protect, and who do they protect them from?

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Did not close the train stations the Transit Police ordered that the stations be shut down against the concerns of Transit officials. The next lawsuit will be filed against the MBTA.

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Seems to me the cops were overly aggressive, especially using baton strikes. And telling people to leave without giving any way out is kinda dumb. But questions:

Was this after the established curfew?

Was the hard shove in the video after the crowd was told to move back? (It looks like almost every other protester was well back from this spot).

If either of these is a yes, then that negates a lot of the complaint.

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And telling people to leave without giving any way out is kinda dumb

By “Kinda dumb” I believe you meant “pre-planned, well-executed tactic to legitimize assaulting and clubbing people.”

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Now who turned it into a riot, again?

What urban gang was rioting? Who was paying these rioters?

Hmmm.

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John Costello needs his diaper changed

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