CHICAGO — Black Lives Matter Chicago said they filed lawsuits against both the U.S. government and local police Thursday, aiming to keep federal agents off the streets of Chicago and alleging an improper use of force by officers in the city.
Nearly 100 people gathered in Federal Plaza to denounce the actions of police and announce the lawsuits Thursday, days after President Trump said he was sending agents to Chicago and nearly a week after a downtown protest ended in violence between officers and protesters.
“We are at the beginning of a fight, this is not over,” said Amika Tendaji, Black Lives Matter Chicago. “I have seen the lawless police who can’t follow their own damn laws that they said they’re going to protect.”
One lawsuit aims to block the federal government from sending additional agents to Chicago. Members of Black Lives Matter Chicago say if they come to the city, a repeat of events like those in Portland is inevitable.
Chicago Mayor Lightfoot has said previously she’d only welcome help from federal agents if they work in collaboration with local officials, not unilaterally.
The group also filed an injunction asking the court to direct Chicago police to stop using excessive force in violation of a federal consent decree.
They point to last Friday’s protest, where police and protesters clashed at a rally in front of the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park.
Chicago police say protesters attacked several officers, while Black Lives Matter Chicago says their members were gassed, hit with batons and arrested for exercising their right to freedom of assembly.
“Within the past two months I’ve been tear gassed, pepper sprayed, aggressively handled by officers and I’ve seen and experienced some of the most traumatic events of my life,” said Alycia Kamil of the group GoodKids MadCity.
They’re also suing the Fraternal Order of Police and its president, saying they’re attempting to suppress First Amendment rights by requesting federal forces intervene in Chicago. They say the last thing the city needs is more police.
“They are trying to suppress our righteous anger and we will not be suppressed, we will continue fighting back; we have been fighting back for two months and we will not stop,” said Aislinn Pulley, Founder of Black Lives Matter Chicago.
Black Lives Matter Chicago is also pushing city leaders to defund the police. They want that money to go to other resources such as schools and education, along with mental health institutions and treatments to help reduce the violence. They say more police presence is not the answer.