A federal judge in Detroit has reportedly ordered city police to stop using batons, shields, gases, chokeholds, rubber bullets or sonic cannons against peaceful protesters for the next two weeks.
The late Friday ruling gave Detroit Will Breathe, a group that sued the city on Monday, an injunction alleging excessive police force violated protesters’ First Amendment rights, according to the Detroit Free Press.
US District Court Judge Laurie Michelson has ordered that police prohibit the use of force during protests for no “probable cause”.
Jack Schulz, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the group, described the verdict as a victory.
“For a short time, we know that the police cannot use the brutal tactics they have used in the past against peaceful protesters without breaking a court order,”
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Detroit Police Chief James Craig said police never used force against peaceful protesters.
“We will continue to do our job as we did,” he said. “We respect peaceful protesters. We understand the judge’s orders and we will ensure that protesters understand if there is any aggression or violation of the law. As in the past, they will be fully informed.”
“We will continue to do our work as we did. We respect peaceful demonstrators.”
The lawsuit alleged that the officers’ use of force brought some demonstrators to the hospital.
The department is investigating around two dozen complaints against officials, including an officer who was charged with assault for allegedly hitting three photojournalists with rubber bullets, Craig said, according to Detroit News.
“We believe that the police action taken so far is justified if the evidence is heard.”
Officers are also prohibited from tightening zip ties in such a way that they cause injury or arrest large numbers of demonstrators for no probable cause.
“We are disappointed that the order was entered without a hearing of evidence as we believe that the police action taken so far is justified if the evidence is heard,” said Attorney Lawrence Garcia.
Amanda Ghannam, a lawyer for Detroit Will Breathe, issued a statement Friday saying officials “have repeatedly responded with violence and hostility to the simple message that” black life matters, “according to the Free Press.
“We are relieved that Detroit Will Breathe can safely and peacefully remember their 100th day of protest (Saturday) without fear of violent reprisals or unlawful arrest by police – that has always been the main objective of this lawsuit,” she added .
Michelson ordered a meeting for both sides in late September to agree on protest norms, including “arrest protocol, de-escalation protocol and protocol for reporting by neutral observers,” the Free Press reported.
The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners on Wednesday passed guidelines prohibiting officers from using chokeholds and requiring them to intervene if another officer uses excessive force.
Craig noted that the police did not use chokeholds against protesters.
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“If someone resists arrest or tries to attack our officers, we will use whatever force is both sensible and necessary to overcome the resistance,” he added, according to the Detroit News. “We don’t want the demonstrators to be injured, and we don’t want officers to be injured either.”