Excessive force used by members of law enforcement to supposedly eradicate potentially dangerous situations has gained a wealth of media attention as of late, with individuals allegedly being unlawfully attacked, injured or even killed. Many have claimed that simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, peacefully protesting or even having a particular skin color, set officers into blind rages. Why not add political affiliation to the list?
In total, 230 individuals peacefully protesting were arrested during Donald Trump’s inauguration after police officers corralled them into a specific location at the corner of 12th and L Streets. Law enforcers stated many in the group were manically trashing public property, breaking store and car windows with crowbars, hammers and other weapons and setting vehicles on fire. By all outward appearances, the actions of these individuals needed to be stopped quickly, by force if necessary. After all, the total estimated destruction from those involved is over $100,000 and six officers were injured. However, supposedly not everyone who was detained and put in handcuffs was engaging in unlawful behavior.
Therefore, on Friday afternoon, Colorado criminal defense lawyer, Benjamin Christopher Carraway, decided to set up a hotline for demonstrators who feel they were wrongfully arrested. It was established for those individuals insisting they were innocent bystanders or who were peacefully participating. He subsequently filed a class action lawsuit, becoming the named member on this filing. The lawsuit was issued specifically to give a voice to those alleging members of law enforcement used excessive force, injuring them in the process of making the Inauguration Day arrests. Members include attorneys, journalists, medics, and other docile protesters alleging they were aggressively attacked with the use of batons. They state policemen also threw grenades and chemical irritants into the crowd and that the attack came without fair warning to disperse. These individuals feel as if they simply weren’t doing anything to warrant probable cause for arrest.
CORRECTION: Mr. Carraway was at the protests as a National Lawyers Guild legal observer. He is not, in any way, an advisor for or part of DisruptJ20’s legal team.
Carraway is DisruptJ20’s legal adviser, a group designed specifically to protest against Trump’s presidency. DisruptJ20’s Facebook site states the new president elect stands for “tyranny, greed and misogyny” and “is a champion of neo-nazis and white Nationalists, of police who kill the Black, Brown and poor on a daily basis, or racist border agents and sadistic prison guards, of the FBI and NSA who tap your phone and read your email”, among other social deviants and underground groups, including the KKK. Strong words indeed. The question becomes — Is having a strong dislike of Trump probable cause enough to have aggressively arrested protesters?
Other peacefully protesting plaintiffs in the class action remain unnamed, but there are at least six journalists and members of the media charged with felony rioting who were there covering the protests, two of which were standing near Carraway at the time of the attack, and there are approximately thirty people altogether. Carraway claims the officers were bribing the group into pleading guilty to lesser charges in order to avoid felonies. The plaintiffs are demanding a jury trial to determine whether the actions of the officers, rather than their own, should be prosecuted.