The American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia has filed a lawsuit against the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, claiming that officers wrongfully arrested innocent protesters during President Donald Trump’s inauguration back in January.
According to The Hill, among the plaintiffs are a photojournalist, a legal observer and two protesters, who the lawsuit claims were exposed to “constitutional, statutory and common law violations” by law enforcement.
The lawsuit accuses officers of detaining some protesters for as long as 16 hours, allegedly denying them food, water and access to bathrooms. Some of the protesters were handcuffed so tightly that they were injured.
“The coordinated MPD response is part of a custom of the District of Columbia of responding with overwhelming and unlawful force to nonviolent demonstrators at largely peaceful demonstrations where some law-breaking is occurring,” the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit names the district, Police Chief Peter Newsham and some 170 officers as defendants in the case.
Trump’s inauguration was marked by peaceful protests. However, things eventually grew tense just a few blocks away from the White House. Dozens of individuals were arrested after a small group of people started to ignite small, isolated fires and destroy the property of multiple businesses.
Police claim they used the force necessary to quiet the disturbances that broke out, which caused roughly $100,000 in damages. At the end of it, some 234 people were charged in connection with the incident.
As The Hill notes, the Police Department said that officers were concentrating on restoring peace during Inauguration Day after a group of rioters caused damage and injured at least six officers. However, the department said that it would investigate any allegations of misconduct within the department.
“During the 58th presidential inauguration, there were thousands of individuals who exercised their constitutional right to peacefully assemble and speak out for their cause. Unfortunately, there was another group of individuals who chose to engage in criminal acts, destroying property and hurling projectiles, injuring at least six officers,” the department said in a statement. “These individuals were ultimately arrested for their criminal actions, and the bulk of them are pending prosecution after being indicted by a grand jury. As with any pending criminal or civil matter, we will continue to support and respect the formal legal process. Moreover, all instances of use of force by officers and allegations of misconduct will be fully investigated.”
So far, about 12 people have pleaded guilty in relation to the incident on Inauguration Day, including an individual who pleaded guilty to felony rioting and assaulting a police officer, The Hill reports.
Read more at The Hill.