Massachusetts

George Floyd Protesters File Suit Alleging Boston Police Used Excessive Force

The four plaintiffs said they were all "physically attacked" by police at a peaceful demonstration on May 31, 2020 on the Boston Common

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Four people who attended a protest following the death of George Floyd last year have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging that Boston police used excessive force against them.

The plaintiffs, Massachusetts residents Jasmine Huffman, Justin Ackers, Caitlyn Hall and Ben Chambers-Maher, said they were all "physically attacked" by police officers at a peaceful demonstration on May 31, 2020 on the Boston Common.

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A series of peaceful protests were held in the city that day, but by nightfall things turned violent, with demonstrators throwing rocks, bricks and bottles at police, lighting a police cruiser on fire and looting area businesses. The National Guard was eventually called in to help disperse the crowds.

In the lawsuit, Huffman alleges that Boston police Officer Michael Burke struck her with his riot baton as she stood still with her arms in the air. Burke and other police officers then allegedly walked over her, the suit alleges.

Ackers said he was trying to leave the protest on his moped when Burke hit him with his riot baton, knocking him to the pavement.

As protesters pushed for racial justice and police reform in Boston, our reporters interviewed them to find out why they're making their voices heard and what their message is in their own words.

Chambers-Maher said he was hit with pepper spray twice by Officer Michael J. McManus as he walked away from Boston police officers. He said he was trying to return to his car so he could leave the area, as officers had instructed him to do.

Hall said Officer Edward Joseph Nolan struck her with his riot baton as she stood in Downtown Crossing with her hands up, causing her tooth to puncture her lip and her head to hit the pavement.

The lawsuit seeks money damages for violating the plaintiffs' civil rights, alleging that Boston police "did not have a proper plan for handling a protest at the Boston Common, the officers were not properly supervised, and the department tolerated use of force when no force was necessary to accomplish a proper police presence."

A Boston Police spokesperson said it does not comment on pending litigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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