The ACLU of Missouri has filed a lawsuit against the city of St. Louis, alleging unconstitutional police misconduct for cops’ use of riot gear and chemical weapons this week against protestors.
Protests have erupted since former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty this week in the fatal shooting of a fleeing black man in 2011. In a video obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Stockley can be heard saying he’s “going to kill this motherfucker” before the shooting.
Police have been pepper-spraying protesters and rounding them up in a “police kettle,” surrounding demonstrators with officers on all sides. One video shows an elderly woman trampled by officers in riot gear. Another shows cops chillingly chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!”
“I think everyone deserves the same rights as I do,” plaintiff Maleeha Ahmad, who said she was pepper-sprayed by police, told the ACLU. “If it hadn’t been for my fellow peaceful protestors ― strangers who came to my aid ― I don’t know how my eyesight would be today. I would have been left out in the sun, on the ground, with my face burning.”
The lawsuit alleges that chemical weapons were used against protestors “without proper protocol,” that officers tried to stop protestors from recording the events, and that authorities unlawfully detained people using the kettling method, according to the ACLU.
“St. Louis should be a place where all people feel safe against retaliation from law enforcement, and all should receive due process,” Alison Dreith, another plaintiff, said in a statement. “We should strive to be a place where every citizen feels supported by the communities we call home. This is the vision that drives us into the streets and inspires us to hold our leaders accountable when they betray our values.”
A spokesperson for the mayor said the office does not comment on pending litigation.