A Baton Rouge police officer injured during an Alton Sterling-related protest last summer cannot sue Black Lives Matter or prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson because Black Lives Matter is a "movement" and not an entity that can be sued, Mckesson's attorney argued before a federal judge Wednesday.
But a lawyer for the unnamed officer asked Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson to allow the officer's suit to go forward, arguing that Black Lives Matter is an "unincorporated association" capable of being sued under Louisiana law.
A Baton Rouge police officer who lost teeth and suffered other injuries during a protest out…
In a hearing Wednesday on the suit that was filed in November, Jackson observed that the word organization is "often an ill-defined term."
The judge took under advisement arguments presented by Mckesson's attorney, Billy Gibbens, and Donna Grodner, the lawyer representing the officer. He said he'll issue a ruling within the coming days.
Mckesson has asked Jackson to throw out the officer's suit.
An attorney for a prominent Black Lives Matter activist urged a federal judge Monday to dism…
The judge said a key question is whether, under Louisiana law, Black Lives Matter is capable of suing and being sued.
Gibbens said the answer to that question is a resounding "no." He called Black Lives Matter a "community of interests." Gibbens also said Mckesson is not an agent of Black Lives Matter.
Gibbens said he has seen no evidence that Black Lives Matter has insurance, dues, a membership hierarchy or articles of association.
"I don't think there's any hard facts that this is an unincorporated association," he argued. "This is a movement."
Grodner, though, alleged that Black Lives Matter solicits and accepts donations, has meetings, and has national chapters.
Black Lives Matter, she argued, has "revenues or capital with a purpose." Grodner suggested part of that purpose is to pay for protesters' transportation and lodging.
Grodner's client, who attended Wednesday's hearing but has asked the court to be identified only as "John Doe" for his safety and that of his family, claims he lost teeth and suffered other injuries when someone threw a chunk of concrete at him during a July 9 protest outside Baton Rouge police headquarters at the intersection of Airline Highway and Goodwood Boulevard.
His suit alleges Mckesson, of Baltimore, came to Baton Rouge last summer "for the purpose" of "rioting to incite others to violence against police and other law enforcement officers."
The suit also claims Mckesson organized the July 9 protest, was in charge of it, gave orders throughout the day and night. The unknown person who injured the officer was "under the control and custody" of Mckesson, the suit alleges.
Mckesson has denied those allegations.
Mckesson is one of about 80 protesters who are eligible for cash payments ranging from $500 to $1,000 if U.S. District Judge John deGravelles approves a proposed settlement of a class action suit that accuses law enforcement agencies in Baton Rouge of violating the constitutional rights of protesters who were arrested during the demonstrations.
A federal judge on Tuesday preliminarily approved a proposed settlement resolving a class ac…
Police arrested nearly 200 people at protests in Baton Rouge after a white police officer fatally shot Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, during a struggle outside a convenience store on July 5.
The settlement's class is limited to protesters arrested only on charges of obstructing a highway. Mckesson and two other arrested protesters are the named plaintiffs in the suit against the city, BRPD, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office and Louisiana State Police.
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The U.S. Justice Department announced last month that no federal charges would be filed against the two officers who struggled with Sterling. The Louisiana Attorney General's Office is now probing whether any state charges are warranted.