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Legal observers press suit alleging abuse by Detroit police

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Detroit – A group of five women claimed Monday that Detroit police ignored their bright green caps, which marked them as legal watchers for the National Lawyers Guild, and attacked them during protests last year.

An abuse lawsuit was filed earlier this month and amended in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Monday. The five plaintiffs and their attorney David Robinson presented the allegations during a press conference in federal court.

“With no legitimate reason or apology, my clients have been viciously attacked by Detroit police officers for no other reason than legal observer,” Robinson said. The alleged incidents occurred during the May and August protests against police brutality.

The 34-page complaint names the city of Detroit, Mayor Mike Duggan, Police Commissioner James Craig, Cmdr. In it Szilagy, policeman Rodney Cushingberry and unidentified policemen.

Attorney David A. Robinson speaks during the press conference in the US District Court in Detroit.

The addition to Monday’s lawsuit, which claims more than $ 75,000, was to file a motion for a restraining order that “prohibits defendants from continuing the illegal practices” as the lawsuit alleges that lawyers are afraid to act in this capacity during protests following the alleged incidents.

Detroit Corporation attorney Lawrence Garcia said in an email: “The Detroit Police Department did a good job keeping the peace during the protests and dealing professionally with post-misconduct allegations. A fair and honest self-assessment is crucial these days. “

“I doubt the recent ‘legal observer’ claims will reveal anything new about last summer’s protest activity, but we will look carefully at the matter and defend it appropriately,” said Garcia.

Plaintiff Marie Reimers said she had been a legal observer for six years. “And I’ve never seen anything like it this summer in Detroit. I’ve been beaten and gassed several times. I have long-term physical problems.”

“The Detroit Police Department doesn’t exist to help Detroiters,” Reimers said. “It exists to terrorize them.”

Clarissa Grimes, another plaintiff, said an officer attacked her with his shield.

“He hit me so hard that it left a bruise the shape of a shield on my arm,” she said.

Clarissa Grimes, speaking at the press conference, says she has had panic attacks since her experience with the protests last summer.

“I saw broken bones, eyes burned with tear gas,” said Grimes, who said she had suffered panic attacks since the alleged incident.

Robinson said “a considerable amount” of the alleged abuse was on video. “Much of it is online,” he said.

After the first lawsuit was filed on April 2, Garcia told The Detroit News: “None of the complaints submitted or incidents that DPD itself investigated concerned ‘legal observers.’ ‘If individuals who identify themselves as legal observers have a year on have waited for the lawsuit to be filed and now claim the police abused them last summer, the city will investigate and defend the lawsuit. “

Attorney Julie Hurwitz, president of the Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild Detroit & Michigan, represents the Detroit Will Breathe protest group in a federal lawsuit alleging similar allegations against Detroit police officers as in Monday’s amended file. She said the Detroit police force was out of control.

“The Detroit Police Department has shown a pattern of civil rights violations,” Hurwitz said. “Instead of promoting problem officers, which happens all the time, (Craig) has to get rid of them.”

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN

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Dusty Kennedy