Line of police during protests in Charlotte, NC.

Line of police during protests in Charlotte, NC. Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty

Civil Rights Groups Sue City of Charlotte

Line of police during protests in Charlotte, NC.
Line of police during protests in Charlotte, NC. Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty

Protesters who were attacked by Charlotte-Mecklenburg law enforcement during a peaceful protest against police brutality, sued the city of Charlotte and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney for violating their state constitutional rights.

The groups involved in the lawsuit, NAACP-Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Nerve Media Productions, American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, Team TruBlue, Charlotte Uprising and the Southeast Asian Coalition and others, are represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

“Over the last three to four weeks, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) has set a new low of for police-citizen encounters,” said Elizabeth Haddix, managing attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Peaceful protests are hallmarks of our democracy, yet the violent actions of the CMPD undermine the established tradition that none of our rights end simply because law enforcement shows up at a scene.”

Thousands of anti-police brutality protesters have marched in Charlotte over the last three weeks as protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd have filled communities and dominated public debate. On June 2, residents in Charlotte, motivated by the Floyd killing and their own area’s history of violent and deadly police practices, joined a protest movement to protect Black lives. They believed they could participate in demonstrations against police brutality in Charlotte without being exposed to the use of chemical irritants, exploding projectiles or being boxed in by rows of police while expressing their views.

In response, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police exposed protesters to police brutality. Specifically, on June 2, 2020, residents organized a protest that convened outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center. Three hours later, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) confronted the peaceful crowd with tear gas, police in riot gear, exploding projectiles and tactics designed to menace peaceful citizens.

The suit alleges that CMPD Chief Putney oversaw a formal plan to end this peaceful protest with a deliberate show of force in apparent frustration that the protests would not cease.

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