Twenty people arrested in Baton Rouge during demonstrations a year ago over the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling accused authorities of using excessive force and violating their rights in at least three federal lawsuits, the latest volleys in the legal battles over the police handling of the protests.

The plaintiffs contend Baton Rouge police, state troopers and other authorities used excessive force and unjustified arrests in a deliberate bid to silence protesters during demonstrations near Baton Rouge Police headquarters and near downtown.

The lawsuits filed Sunday as legal deadlines approach are among the flurry of litigation over the protests following Sterling's death during a struggle with two white Baton Rouge policemen on July 5, 2016. Nearly 200 people were arrested during protests the weekend following Sterling's death.

A number of activists sharply criticized the police response to the weekend demonstrations, which largely took place along Airline Highway near the Baton Rouge Police headquarters and along several blocks of Beauregard Town near Government Street and Interstate 110.

Others, including Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and law enforcement leaders, praised the handling of the protests and described the actions of officers as restrained and professional.

The city of Baton Rouge has already agreed to settle a previous lawsuit filed a group of some 90 protesters, including Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson, arrested solely for simple obstruction of a highway. The deal, which is still awaiting approval from a federal judge, would pay each $500, reimburse bond fees and expunge the arrest records.

Sgt. Bryan Taylor, the president of the union which represents Baton Rouge city police officers, previously blasted the cash settlement with Mckesson and other protesters as a "slap in the face" and a "dangerous precedent." Taylor on Monday said the latest lawsuits were "all BS" but declined to comment further.

Another lawsuit, filed in March by attorneys with the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center in New Orleans on behalf of several protesters arrested along Airline Highway on July 9, 2016, is still pending in federal court. Attorneys with the MacArthur Justice Center are also involved in two of the three lawsuits filed Sunday.

None of the protesters named in the latest lawsuits has been criminally charged, though East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office hasn't ruled out prosecuting some of them. Moore announced last summer he wouldn't bring charges against those booked only for simple obstruction of a highway.

But other protesters arrested by police — including most of those who filed suit on Sunday — were arrested on additional counts, such as resisting arrest or disturbing the peace, and aren't covered by the settlement agreement struck in Mckesson's case.

In one of the lawsuits filed Sunday, brought by a separate group of civil rights attorneys on behalf of 13 protesters and two journalists, focuses on a three-hour confrontation between police and more than 300 protesters in Beauregard Town on July 10, 2016.

A total of 50 people were arrested that day as the protesters — most of whom had taken part in a peaceful youth-led march to the Capitol earlier that day — were confronted by a contingent of police and state troopers as they marched down Government Street.

"This was an orchestrated attempt to suppress public speech through violence and misconduct," said John Adcock, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit.

Police officials at the time said they were concerned the crowd, which was diverted down East Boulevard to France Street by a line of officers, was about to head toward the nearby Interstate 110 on-ramp. A number of protesters told reporters with The Advocate they intended to march to BRPD's Airline Highway headquarters, while others had joined the crowd after they'd already turned off Government Street.

Baton Rouge Police deployed a sonic weapon called an LRAD, a deafening high-pitched siren, and officers in riot gear — some carrying rifles or riding armored vehicles — added gas masks for the first and only time during several days of demonstrations.

Then-State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson told The Advocate that some in the crowd tossed chunks of concrete toward police.

Dozens of protesters scrambled into the yard of a private home on East Boulevard after the resident had invited protesters to gather. As police moved in to arrest the protesters, a contingent of officers charged into the yard to tackle and arrest a number of people, including 10 of the 15 plaintiffs. One of the plaintiffs in another lawsuit filed Sunday was also arrested while on the lawn.

Others, according to the lawsuit, were arrested for standing on sidewalks or for stepping into the road in an effort to leave the area as directed by police.

But those directions, shouted by officers over loudspeakers, were confusing and in some instances contradictory, leaving many with no feasible way to comply, according to the lawsuit.

Police repeatedly told protesters to immediately leave. But with lines of riot police blocking roadways — and anyone stepping on sidewalks or the street threatened with arrest — those in the crowd were left in an impossible situation, the lawsuit contends.

Tammy Cheney and her 17-year-old daughter, Alexus, were arrested near their car at East Boulevard and Government Street while, according to the lawsuit, attempting to comply with police orders. Cheney's 5-year-old son was taken by police and spent several days in state custody.

Two other plaintiffs were waiting to meet a friend at the corner of Maximillian Street and Government Street so they could leave when officers — without warning, according to the lawsuit — tackled them to the ground and roughly handled them as they were dragged away.

A black Baton Rouge resident who contends he's never joined a protest in his life but was wrestled off his bicycle and taken to jail after riding past the protests on his way home from work is among the plaintiffs in another of the federal lawsuits filed Sunday.

The affidavits of arrest filed by police use generic boilerplate language to describe the protest along Airline Highway near BRPD headquarters, and use vague and general terms describing the protester's alleged misconduct. Several legal experts told The Advocate last year the inaccuracies and lack of specific allegations raise red flags.

The lawsuit calls the documents "perjurious" and "facially false and contradictory." The MacArthur Justice Center lawsuits make similar allegations.

A number of police officers, including those who signed the arrest affidavits, are named as defendants in the lawsuit. In addition, the suit names the East Baton Rouge city-parish government, local law enforcement agencies and their leaders as defendants. This includes the Louisiana State Police, the Baton Rouge Police Department, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office and the Louisiana Sheriff's Association, which coordinated additional manpower to respond to the protests.

Officials and spokespeople for the agencies all declined to comment Monday.

The treatment of protesters at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, where they were booked and held for a number of hours, is described in the lawsuits as brutal and unconstitutional, echoing allegations leveled in a scathing report issued in recent days by the Promise of Justice Initiative.

The Sheriff's Office, which operates the jail, disputes the claims made in that report.

The final lawsuit filed Sunday focuses on the arrest of an unnamed 16-year-old girl while protesting outside the Scotlandville home of then-Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden on the night of July 9, 2016.

One of Holden's neighbors invited a group of protesters onto her lawn and offered them water as they held signs, according to the suit. Dozens of heavily armed BRPD SWAT officers suddenly swarmed the street and without warning ordered the group to the ground, the suit says.

The teen was arrested along with other protesters as a number of officers kept rifles trained on them from vantage points of Holden's roof, according to that suit. The girl was cited for disorderly conduct and released to her mother later that night.

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the group who released a report on conditions in jail for arrested protesters.

Follow Bryn Stole on Twitter, @BrynStole.