The American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia on Wednesday asked a federal court to reject total immunity for former U.S. Attorney General William Barr "and federal officers responsible for the 2020 Lafayette Square attack on racial justice demonstrators" protesting the police killing of George Floyd.
The Department of Justice and ACLU in April reached a settlement to resolve portions of four civil lawsuits sparked by the June 2020 incident, where law enforcement authorities fired flash-bang shells, gas and rubber bullets into the crowd of protesters.
Plaintiffs in an appellate brief filed Wednesday argued that the district court's "blanket rejection of constitutional enforceability is sharply inconsistent with our constitutional structure and the rule of law," because it effectively creates a "Constitution-free zone ... in the heart of the nation's capital."
Kishon McDonald, a former U.S. Navy sailor who is a plaintiff in the case, said he joined the lawsuit "to hold accountable the people involved in attacking demonstrators."
"I served this country so everyone could enjoy the freedoms granted to us under the Constitution," he added. "I should not have been attacked with tear gas and flash-bangs when I was protesting for change. Holding the officers accountable for their vicious attack will ensure that this moment in history is not forgotten, and it will put federal officials on notice that they cannot trample our constitutional rights."
As part of the settlement, the U.S. Park Police and Secret Service agreed to "update and clarify" policies regarding demonstrations, including changes like requiring officers to wear badges and nameplates in public view, including on tactical gear and helmets.
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