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Supreme Court rejects BLM activist’s bid to evade police officer’s lawsuit

By 37ci3 Apr16,2024

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court rejected an appeal filed by Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson on Monday, ruling that the protest leader could not be sued over the injury to a police officer by another protester.

McKesson, who led protests in Baton Rouge after the July 2016 police killing of a black man, is facing a lawsuit after an officer was hit in the head by a rock or piece of concrete thrown by an unknown person.

The protest was sparked by the death of Alton Sterling after an altercation outside a CD store.

McKesson, who is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, says his protest actions are protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment, which guarantees both free speech and the right to assembly.

Neither judge challenged the court’s decision not to hear the case, but liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a statement explaining why the court did not need to intervene. He noted recently The decision of the Supreme Court raises some of the same issues that could benefit Mckesson as the litigation continues.

The court’s refusal to hear the case “expresses no opinion on the merits of McKesson’s claim,” he said.

McKesson’s attorneys said they would prefer the Supreme Court to end the case now, but they expect him to prevail in lower courts.

“The purpose of lawsuits like this is to prevent people from coming to protest for fear of being held responsible if something happens. But people don’t have to be afraid to come. The Constitution still protects our right to protest,” McKesson said in a statement.

The officer says McKesson was negligent under Louisiana law by failing to foresee that the protest would lead to violence. The lawsuit alleges that the officer lost his teeth and suffered a head injury.

The case has already gone to the courts. A federal judge initially ruled McKesson could not stand trial in 2017, but the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned that decision.

Mckesson appealed to the Supreme Court, which led to litigation as the justices ordered further analysis of whether Louisiana law allowed a lawsuit like the one brought by the officer.

The Louisiana Supreme Court was asked to consider the question of state law and confirmed that the suit could be brought. In 2022, an appeals court later reaffirmed that the officer’s lawsuit could go forward, prompting McKesson to appeal to the US Supreme Court a second time.

Among other things, the appeals court said, the officer had plausibly argued that McKesson helped create a dangerous situation by gathering outside the police station, taking no action to prevent looting, and driving protesters onto a public highway, which is illegal in Louisiana. .

Lawyers for the unnamed officer say the First Amendment “does not protect against tort liability for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of one’s own negligent, unlawful or dangerous activity.”

McKesson has been a key figure in the Black Lives Matter movement, which has criticized police brutality against blacks.

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By 37ci3

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