Suing the Detroit Police: Stopping Violence Against Black Lives Matter Protesters

Below is an excerpt from the Temporary Restraining Order turned Preliminary Injunction in Detroit Will Breathe vs City of Detroit.  The excerpt summarizes Detroit Police tactics currently prohibited by the court.

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National Lawyers Guild attorney Amanda Ghannam, surrounded by activist Plaintiffs, starts off a powerful Aug 31, 2020 press conference after filing Detroit Will Breathe et al. v City of Detroit et al.. Watch the full press conference here. 

Detroit Will Breathe vs City of Detroit

On August 31, 2020, the Detroit and Michigan Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild initiated a major civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Detroit Will Breathe and several individual plaintiffs. Detroit Will Breathe, et al vs City of Detroit, et al. challenges the constitutionality of the unprecedented level of violence the Detroit police inflicted on protesters during the summer of the George Floyd Uprising in defense of Black lives. We have an energetic team of young NLG attorneys - Amanda Ghannam, Jack Schulz, Melissa Brown Knox, Sean Riddell, Geoff Leonard, and others - led by our Chapter Vice President Julie Hurwitz and NLG Board member Bill Goodman.

Here is a link to a video of the powerful press conference with Plaintiff protesters and NLG attorneys on that day we filed the suit in federal court.

NLG attorneys succeeded in convincing U.S. District Judge Laurie J. Michelson to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the illegal and violent tactics of the Detroit Police Department in suppressing the dissent of Black Lives Matter protesters. Subsequently, the attorneys for the City of Detroit agreed to the Judge turning the TRO into a Preliminary Injunction, prohibiting the Detroit police, for the duration of the lawsuit, from using batons, shields, tear gas, rubber bullets, chokeholds, mass arrests without individualized probable cause, and other tactics against nonviolent protesters, Legal Observers, and medics.

Retaliation
On Sept 25, 2020, the City filed a Counterclaim against Detroit Will Breathe and all the other Plaintiffs, accusing them of “civil conspiracy to commit criminal acts.” The NLG legal team filed a motion to dismiss that counterclaim, which was joined by Amicus Briefs from the ACLU and from Protect The Protests (an Oregon-based national coalition that fights SLAPP suits). The Court granted the motion to dismiss with prejudice on March 10, 2021, ruling that the City failed to state a claim for civil conspiracy.

The National Lawyers Guild, Detroit and Michigan Chapter is proud to work with those in Detroit Will Breathe and others while they confront police brutality and cruel inhumanity.

 

DETROIT WILL BREATHE FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST CITY OF DETROIT
https://medium.com/@detroitwillbreathe/detroit-will-breathe-files-lawsuit-against-city-of-detroit-e71ab743433

Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, University of Michigan https://www.clearinghouse.net/detail.php?id=17788

Protesters promise civil lawsuit against city in wake of Saturday night protest, arrests
https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/
michigan/detroit/2020/08/24/detroit-will-breathe-protesters-civil-lawsuit/5628309002/

Detroit protesters file lawsuit over 'brutal violence' from police
https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/
michigan/detroit/2020/08/31/detroit-protests-police-lawsuit/5670143002/

Detroit Is Suing Black Lives Matter Protesters For “Civil Conspiracy” ...after protesters won a restraining order against Detroit cops for their violent response to the George Floyd protests.
https://theintercept.com/2020/12/21/detroit-black-lives-matter-lawsuit/

Detroit Council approves using public funds to countersue protesters
https://www.bridgedetroit.com/detroit-council-approves-using-public-funds-to-countersue-protesters/

Detroit mass arrests thrown out as anti-racist struggle continues
https://www.liberationnews.org/detroit-mass-arrests-thrown-out-as-anti-racist-struggle-continues/

Detroit's counterclaim against protesters evokes suppression tactics of 60s, 70s
https://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributor
s/2021/02/09/detroit-black-lives-matter-protesters/4375632001/

Moratorium Now Coalition: ‘Statement of Disgust Regarding City’s Counterclaim Against Detroit Will Breathe’
https://wibailoutpeople.org/2021/02/16/moratorium-now-coalition-statement-of-disgust-regarding-citys-counterclaim-against-detroit-will-breathe/

Nakia Wallace calls for accountability from Detroit officials https://thegrio.com/2021/02/22/detroit-police-protesters-lawsuit/

Links to Court Documents

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES & FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
8/31/2020
MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION; INDEX of exhibits, EXHIBITS 8/31/2020
OPINION + ORDER GRANTING TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER 9/4/2020
Joint Order to Preserve Status Quo (aka Preliminary Injunction) 9/18/2020
city's Answer + Counterclaim to Civil Rights Lawsuit 9/25/2020
MOTION TO DISMISS city's COUNTERCLAIM; exhibits 10/30/2020
Protect The Protest  Amicus Brief in support of  motion to dismiss counterclaim 11/6/2020
ACLU Amicus Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss Counterclaim 11/7/2020
City's opposition to motion to dismiss counterclaim 12/4/2020
National Police Assn Amicus Brief in support of City's  Counterclaim 12/11/2020 
REply to City's response to Motion to Dismiss its Counterclaim 12/18/2020
Opinion & Order granting motion to dismiss city's counterclaim 3/10/2021