By Michael Apfel
WASHINGTON, DC – The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund and its project, the Center for Protest Law & Litigation. has filed a federal lawsuit against the District of Columbia and the Metropolitan Police Department’s alleged indiscriminate, violent use of less lethal weapons against racial justice protesters.
The fund said it was challenging the MPD’s “repressive and violent tactics including the authorized indiscriminate use of ‘less lethal’ projectile weapons against peaceful protestors and bystanders, gratuitously and without notice or warning and in order to intentionally retaliate against and inflict pain upon protestors challenging policing in our society.”
In an interview with the Washington Post, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, co-founder of the PCJF and CPLL, said, “It’s crucial that people must be able to come here to petition their government as enshrined in the Constitution.”
Verheyden-Hilliard added, “And that they can do so without being subjected to false arrest, to brutality, to suppression, to assault. We’re one police murder away from another wave of people being in the streets, and those people then being targeted for these kinds of vicious and maiming assaults.”
Verheyden-Hilliard emphasized the efforts to address institutional police violence against people of color, arguing, “We were there to challenge the institutionalized police violence perpetrated against Black and Brown people in the United States.”
Plaintiff Elizabeth Ferris said in a statement, “In response, the D.C. police doubled down, trampling rights and inflicting injuries on those who would challenge their impunity.”
The lawsuit targets the MPD’s alleged unconstitutional use of less lethal weapons against protestors, violating their First Amendment right to freely protest against institutionalized racism.