BLM Protestors Subject To Liability Suits After Court Ruling

BLM Protestors Subject To Liability Suits After Court Ruling

In an act that potentially suppresses protesters, a federal appeals court in Louisiana determined that officers can sue protest organizers for liability if injuries occur from another person during their demonstrations.

This news comes after an officer filed an anonymous suit to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the grounds of negligence against Deray Mckesson, a notable Black Lives Matter Activist.

The court ruled in favor for the officer to proceed in his suit, stating that Mckesson was liable due to his plan to block off a highway could lead to an altercation with law enforcement.

However, in an op-ed by Hassan Kanu for Reuters, this ruling “overlooked the fundamental legal principle that while certain categories of speech and action may be impermissible under state law, they are nonetheless protected by the U.S. Constitution.”

Kanu continued on, stating that the court decision “ignores the central role of civil disobedience — demonstrations that are peaceful, and sometimes unlawful — in securing our most fundamental American rights.”

The incident cited for the suit was held in July 2016 during a protest on behalf of the police killing of Alton Sterling, where the publicly unknown officer was allegedly hit with a rock thrown by a protester.

However, the validation of the ruling potentially undermines a precedent set four decades prior in the NAACP v. Claiborne case that ensured protest leaders are protected from any liability if violence occurs during their demonstration, so long as the violent acts are not perpetuated directly by the organizers.

However, the utilization of suing protest organizers on the grounds of negligence is a new tactic protest opposers could use to suppress organizers.

With this in mind, the NAACP released a briefing detailing how the judicial system can be quite harmful to protestors and their ability, under constitutional law, to utilize their freedom of speech and assembly to promote vital changes to society.

If this new precedent impacts  judges decision-making on these matters nationwide, the actions taken by protesters could deal with setbacks under the new threat of even grander legal issues.

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