Demonstrators File Federal Suit Against Boston Police, Alleging Excessive Force At Floyd Protest

Police motorcycles block protestors way on Tremont Street on May 31, 2020. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Police motorcycles block protestors way on Tremont Street on May 31, 2020. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Four people filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Monday accusing Boston police officers of physically attacking them during a protest last year over the death of George Floyd.

The lawsuit alleges police used “excessive and unnecessary force” on peaceful protesters who went to the demonstration on Boston Common on May 31, 2020. The protesters are suing three officers and the city of Boston.

“The police department 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 purpose,” the lawsuit says.

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

Thousands of protesters marched during several peaceful demonstrations held throughout Boston that day. That night, some protesters clashed with officers, throwing rocks, breaking into several stores and lighting a police vehicle on fire. Several officers were hospitalized.

The lawsuit says the people who were attacked by police were peaceful and committed no crimes. Three of the them were hit with wooden riot batons, and two were hit with pepper spray, the lawsuit says.

One man, Justin Ackers, says he was on his moped when Officer Michael Burke hit him with a baton and knocked him off the scooter. The lawsuit says Burke used his baton to hit and knock over another woman, Jasmine Huffman, as she stood with her hands in the air.

Another woman, Caitlyn Hall, says Officer Edward Joseph Nolan hit her in the face with his baton, causing her to fall and hit her head on the ground and briefly lose consciousness.

The fourth protester, Benjamin Chambers-Maher, says a third officer, Officer Michael J. McManus used pepper spray on him as he backed away from McManus and another officer.



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