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Lawsuit: Sacramento police uses force against racial justice protests but ignores Proud Boys

Sam Stanton, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A community activist is suing Sacramento police over its officers' response to racial justice protests last year, alleging that its officers roughed up Black Lives Matter supporters and others while ignoring assaults on protesters by white supremacist groups such as the Proud Boys.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday night in federal court in Sacramento, Meg White claims she has suffered serious injuries caused by police while observing various protests in Sacramento in 2020 and 2021.

"Ms. White, a 34-year-old Black woman who runs a grassroots community group in Sacramento, was severely injured by the Sacramento police while observing counter-protests in late 2020 and early 2021," the lawsuit says. "Ms. White witnessed law enforcement's pattern of restraining and assaulting counter-protesters while permitting Stop the Steal protesters and members of the white supremacist organization, the Proud Boys, to move freely even when wielding weapons like large knives and mace.

"Sacramento police assaulted Ms. White directly when she tried to help others who were attacked by the Proud Boys, and when she asked police for their help. As a result of police violence, Ms. White suffered severe bruising, chronic knee and hip pain, chemical burns, and a shoulder injury so significant that it left her unable to raise her arm."

Sacramento police and a city spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday, but the suit is the latest to stem from the protests that swept through the capital region following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin.

"In the days and weeks following Mr. Floyd's killing, protests against police violence and in support of police accountability erupted across the world, including in Sacramento," according to the lawsuit, which was filed by a team of lawyers, including Tifanei Ressl-Moyer of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center in Denver.

 

"The Sacramento Police Department responded with outsized and unequal force against anti-racist and anti-police brutality protesters, while permitting persons who aligned with pro-police (including Blue Lives Matter) ideologies to demonstrate unharmed. This disparate treatment is consistent with a years-long pattern and practice of discrimination on the part of Sacramento."

White, who runs an organization called Justice Unites Individuals and Communities Everywhere, or JUICE Sacramento, could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday, but her attorney said the claims against Sacramento police have been made by various protesters.

"It's very clear that the repercussions of the Sacramento Police Department's actions are still having dramatic impacts on people who experienced it," Ressl-Moyer said in a phone interview. "And it's important for the police department and the city to respond appropriately and to make sure that justice is seen for people who are harmed.

"The police department in the past has tried to paint this as a very chaotic and messy situation, but the experience of people who went out on these streets to protest police violence and racism, their stories are very consistent."

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