CHARLOTTE - Today the ACLU of North Carolina, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and Emancipate NC, along with several Charlotte-based attorneys, filed a lawsuit on behalf of NAACP, Charlotte Uprising, ACLU of North Carolina, Team TruBlue, SEAC Village, and 4 Charlotte residents against the City of Charlotte and Charlotte Mecklenburg Chief of Police for perpetrating violent attacks against peaceful protesters. The lawsuit asserts CMPD orchestrated a premeditated and violent attack on peaceful demonstrators, trapping them with a maneuver called “kettling” and assaulting them with rubber bullets, tear gas, and flash bang grenades.
The lawsuit, which focuses on kettling tactics, use of force, and the deployment of chemical weapons against ongoing protests, is seeking a temporary restraining order halting these practices and barring the City of Charlotte from violating the rights of protesters.
“People who were marching peacefully to protest police violence were violently attacked by the police without provocation or legal cause,” said Kristi Graunke, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “The violence perpetrated by CMPD was a brazen violation of protesters’ constitutional rights that injured peaceful demonstrators and terrorized the community. We’re suing to halt these dangerous practices and defend people’s fundamental right to make their voices heard.”
In a complaint filed today in Superior Court, the lawsuit asserts that CMPD Chief, Kerr Putney, oversaw a plan called “Operation Anvil” as a deliberate show of force against protesters.
“CMPD’s premeditated and violent attack on people protesting police violence was a chilling reminder of the racism and brutality that pervades the institution of policing,” said Dawn Blagrove, Executive Director of Emancipate NC. “Clearly, CMPD has no intention of respecting the rights of protesters unless they are compelled by the court to do so. We’re asking the court to intervene to prevent CMPD from continuing to brutalize peaceful protesters who have a right to speak out and demand justice.”
“It had been a peaceful march – but we were met with tear gas and police in riot gear. As we were marching up 4th street, CMPD officers trapped us before pelting us with tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash bang grenades,” said Justin LaFrancois, plaintiff. “With no way out, people were panicking trying to get away from the tear gas and explosions. It was terrifying.”
In addition to the ACLU of North Carolina, the Lawyers Committee, and Emancipate NC, counsel on the case include Brandy Haynes, Luke Largess of Tin Fulton Walker & Owen, Tim Emry, Lauren Newton of the law firm of Charles G. Monnett III & Associates, Abe Rubert-Schewel of Lord & Schewel, and Alex Heroy of James McElroy & Diehl.
A copy of the lawsuit can be found at https://www.acluofnorthcarolina.org/en/cases/naacp-charlotte-v-city-charlotte-protest-rights