The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Washington's Metropolitan Police Department, alleging that officers wrongfully arrested innocent protesters during President TrumpDonald TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE's inauguration.
The lawsuit, filed by the ACLU of the District of Columbia, accuses the D.C. police of holding some protesters for as long as 16 hours and depriving them of food, water and bathrooms. Some detainees, the lawsuit says, were handcuffed so tightly that it caused injury.
The suit lists a photojournalist, a legal observer and two protesters among the plaintiffs, all of whom say they were exposed to "constitutional, statutory, and common law violations" by police.
"The coordinated MPD response is part of a custom of the District of Columbia of responding with overwhelming and unlawful force to non-violent demonstrators at largely peaceful demonstrations where some law-breaking is occurring," the lawsuit reads.
Among the defendants listed are the District of Columbia, Police Chief Peter Newsham and as many as 170 police officers, whose names are not specified.
Protests surrounding Trump's Jan. 20 inauguration were largely peaceful but grew tense in the area around Franklin Square, a few blocks north of the White House.
Police said they used necessary force to quell riots that broke out in the area, causing an estimated $100,000 in damage. Two hundred and thirty-four people have been charged in connection with the furor.
The police department said in a statement on Wednesday that police efforts during the inauguration were aimed at restoring peace after a group of rioters damaged property and injured at least six officers.
The department also said it would investigate any allegations of police misconduct.
"During the 58th Presidential Inauguration, there were thousands of individuals who exercised their constitutional right to peacefully assemble and speak out for their cause. Unfortunately, there was another group of individuals who chose to engage in criminal acts, destroying property and hurling projectiles, injuring at least six officers," it said.
"These individuals were ultimately arrested for their criminal actions, and the bulk of them are pending prosecution after being indicted by a grand jury. As with any pending criminal or civil matter, we will continue to support and respect the formal legal process. Moreover, all instances of use of force by officers and allegations of misconduct will be fully investigated."
So far, 12 people have pleaded guilty, including one defendant who pleaded guilty to felony rioting and assault on a police officer.
Updated June 23, 2017 at 3:47 p.m.