Court Battles

DC settles lawsuit over Trump inauguration mass arrests

The Washington, D.C., government settled two lawsuits on Monday over mass arrests made during former President Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

D.C. and the organizations that brought the lawsuits filed court papers stating that the city government will pay $1.6 million to settle both cases, according to a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) D.C. chapter.

The two lawsuits claimed that more than 200 protesters, many of whom did not violate any laws, were rounded up and detained by officers after a small number of demonstrators vandalized and damaged property.

According to the ACLU of D.C., the individuals detained by police were held for up to 16 hours without access to food, water or restrooms. Police also deployed pepper spray, flash-bang grenades, concussion grenades and stingballs against the protesters.

The lawsuits charged that Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers violated the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments in addition to D.C. law.

One of the lawsuits was brought by the ACLU of D.C. on behalf of four demonstrators, including the 10-year-old son of a woman, a photojournalist and a legal observer. The case settled for $605,000.

The other suit was a class-action lawsuit filed by attorney Jeffrey Light on behalf of more than 100 demonstrators, which, subject to final approval by the court, settled for $995,000.

The Hill reached out to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office for comment.

According to The Washington Post, a total of 234 people were arrested in the 2017 Inauguration Day protests near Franklin Square at 12th and L streets NW. Of the group, only 21 pled guilty, which were the only convictions that resulted from the arrests.

The charges against the other individuals were ultimately dropped after prosecutors in initial trials could not connect the defendants to specific damage, the Post reported.

In additional to the financial settlement, as part of the ACLU of D.C.’s case, the MPD will issue a formal directive to modify the procedures for processing arrestees in an effort to avoid having them wait long periods for necessities such as restroom access and water.

“It speaks volumes that the District has chosen to settle rather than defend MPD’s obviously unconstitutional actions in court,” Light said in a statement.

“Today’s settlements provide some measure of compensation for all the people who were unconstitutionally arrested and confined for exercising their rights on Inauguration Day four years ago,” he added.

Tags Donald Trump Muriel Bowser Trump inauguration

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