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Partnership for Civil Justice
APRIL 13, 2004
4:34 PM
CONTACT:  Partnership for Civil Justice
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard (202) 530-5630
Carl Messineo (202) 530-5630
Lawsuit Filed Against the Metropolitan Police Department on Behalf of Protestors Assaulted at Anti-War Demonstration

WASHINGTON - April 13 - In Advance of Coming Spring Protests, Lawsuit Seeks Injunction Against Police Use of the "Rush Tactic" and Use of Motorcycles and Bicycles as Weapons Against Pedestrian Demonstrators

The Partnership for Civil Justice and National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee have filed in Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, a lawsuit on behalf of demonstrators who were assaulted in a lawless police riot against a permitted anti-war demonstration. Plaintiff Marc Frucht, was held on the ground by police officers as another clubbed him repeatedly in the head. Plaintiff Sean Taft-Morales was injured when the police rushed and began attacking the crowd with clubs and fists as it marched on its permitted route.

In addition to damages, the lawsuit seeks an injunction against the MPD's use of motorcycles and bicycles as weapons to drive into and against demonstrators, the MPD's use of police and cycle lines to flank marchers and prohibit persons from leaving or joining demonstration activities, and the MPD's use of the "rush tactic" in which police officers charge and assault assembled demonstrators.

"With upcoming demonstrations in the District, the eyes of the country will be once again focused on the conduct of the Metropolitan Police Department. The MPD has become notorious, especially in recent years, for mass arrests, brutality, raiding the offices of demonstration organizers, and other illegal acts," stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, counsel on the lawsuit. MPD's actions have been the subject of major lawsuits on behalf of demonstrators including two class actions. This new litigation is connected to a demonstration one year ago on April 12, 2003 when a legal and permitted demonstration protesting the occupation of Iraq was attacked by police on motorcycle and on foot.

"This lawsuit constitutes an effort to prohibit police from engaging again in illegal actions targeting dissent." stated Carl Messineo, attorney for the protestors. "The police and other authorities must be held accountable for engaging in a systematic effort to chill the exercise of First Amendment rights by use of police violence, intimidation and preemptive and false arrest." The Partnership for Civil Justice, also litigating on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee, has brought multiple Constitutional rights actions against federal and local law enforcement authorities for violations of the free speech rights of activists and political organizations. These lawsuits include five in the District of Columbia, including two class actions for mass false arrests, and litigation in New York, Philadelphia and most recently, a class action filed in Miami for government repression of last Fall's FTAA demonstrations.


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