Protesters sue Cleveland over arrests in May demonstration

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 13, 2015 7:32 PM

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Four of the dozens of protesters arrested at a demonstration that followed the late May acquittal of a Cleveland police officer on manslaughter charges filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Monday against Cleveland and city officials.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio for the protesters, accuses the city, Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams of violating their rights over the Memorial Day holiday weekend when the verdict was announced.

The lawsuit said police used arrests and custodial detentions to deter and incapacitate protesters, herding them into a small alley way and blocking their exit before ordering them to disperse and arresting them for failing to do so.

More than 100 people protested the acquittal of Cleveland Officer Michael Brelo on voluntary manslaughter charges in the deaths of two motorists who were fatally shot after an extended high-speed chase.

Those arrested in the protest on Saturday, May 23, were held for 36 hours in unsanitary and cramped conditions because police did not want them to resume protests during professional baseball and basketball games that weekend, the lawsuit said.

A spokesman for Mayor Jackson declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Most people who were arrested were arraigned on the Monday afterward. Four protesters were charged with felonies, including felonious assault and rioting. Misdemeanor charges against many of the protesters were dismissed in June.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey and Eric Beech)