A black activist group has filed a lawsuit against the Detroit Police Department accusing its officers of constant harassment, abuse and mistreatment of its members, the Detroit Free Press reports.
"It is beyond comprehension why New Era Detroit, a peaceful and powerful, people-driven organization, would be done like this," the group states in a federal lawsuit.
New Era Detroit is accusing the local police of consistently disrupting its events and mistreating its members. One woman, the suit claims, had her hair ripped out at its roots by a police officer.
"This has become a disgraceful, repetitious and violent pattern in the Detroit Police Department's dealings with New Era Detroit, and must be stopped," the lawsuit states.
The city of Detroit was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
According to the report, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has said before that he was willing to meet with the group to discuss its concerns.
The lawsuit mostly centers around a June 7 incident in which five New Era Detroit members were arrested following a dispute with police.
At around 10:40 that night, a volunteer from the group was pulled over by police for having a green light attached to his vehicle. Officers arrested him on charges of having the light, even though, according to the lawsuit, it was approved by Police Chief James Craig, and then officers had a tow truck called in to remove the vehicle, the group charges.
Members of the organization charged that they showed up to find out what was going on and that police then arrested five of them, allegedly punching them and slamming some of them. The members were jailed for two nights and subject to DNA swabs. They were never charged in the incident.
According to the report, one of of those arrested, 34-year-old Mikera Manning, the secretary of the group, claims that she was kicked and slammed and had her braids yanked out by police. Another woman also was punched several times by another officer, Manning said.
"It was absolutely terrifying," Manning told the Free Press. "We got really roughed up. I was scared."
According to the Free Press, a police report described the interaction with members of the group as hostile and aggressive. New Era Detroit and its attorney refute that claim, saying that its members were complying with orders.
The police report indicated that the volunteer who was pulled over argued with the officer before eventually producing an ID. According to the report, the driver did not have a valid driver's license or registration, and so he was issued a ticket, and police called for the vehicle to be towed.
Afterward, police said, other members of the group started to show up, and five were arrested.
The Free Press reports that the police report indicated that two members of the group stood between the tow truck and the vehicle. The group says that this is not true and that instead, an officer kept telling the two volunteers to move back, while putting his hand on his gun and threatening to shoot.
According to the site, a video captured by a group member shows police cars rushing to the scene. One police car crashes into a pole as it arrives on scene.
Read more at the Detroit Free Press.