Posted to the NLG Louisiana Facebook Page, Tuesday, July 12, 2016 at 8 AM EST
Between Friday and Sunday, more than 170 non-violent protesters were arrested, and dozens documented incidents of civil and constitutional violations including excessive use of force and unlawful infringement on First Amendment rights.
“Over the past few days, law enforcement in Baton Rouge have escalated every interaction with the public civilian population, creating a more dangerous environment for everyone,” says May T. Nguyen, Secretary of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
On Saturday afternoon, following a permitted peaceful protest, protesters were met by more than 100 law enforcement officers including Baton Rouge sheriffs deputies, Louisiana State Police, and Baton Rouge Police in full riot gear and military assault rifles. Law enforcement formed deep lines that cornered hundreds of protesters onto the sidewalks of two residential streets, and a resident’s small front lawn, with permission but with no place to exit. Anyone who moved was aggressively tackled to the ground and arrested. Law enforcement also targeted snatch-and- grab arrests of individuals who posed no threat to public safety, charged at the demonstrators chasing them with loaded assault rifles, and entered a resident’s home who had begun sheltering demonstrators.
National Lawyers Guild legal observers documenting the protest attested that protesters were not violent.Professionally-trained negotiators attempted to intervene with law enforcement at the confrontation, but they refused to cooperate and deescalate the situation. Mandisa Moore-O’Neal, a local attorney and Vice President of the Louisiana National Lawyers Guild, said “myself and members of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild tried many times to intervene and ask law enforcement to de-escalate. Many of them were holding assault rifles with fingers on their triggers and those guns were pointed at the protesters. I had a clear view of both sides of the street; I did not see one thing was thrown by the protesters. I did not see any rocks or asphalt being thrown by protesters.”
In addition to escalating the confrontation against peaceful protestors the police arrested at least two National Lawyers Guild legal observers and 3 members of the press including WNPR reporter Ryan Kailath. “We are also seeing that protesters are being charged with crimes unrelated to any activity documented at the protests. A legal observer standing and documenting the protest was charged with obstruction of a highway and resisting an officer. Protesters who were dragged and tackled into the street are being charged with blocking traffic,” said Sima Atri , a civil rights attorney supporting local organizers in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. “Protesters are also being mistreated in jail after their arrest. We have documented reports of protesters engaging in peaceful vigil and song being maced, 40 to 50 protesters being caged in small cells, and sheriffs making aggressive, violent, and discriminatory comments.”
The NLG Louisiana Chapter has established the Baton Rouge Legal Defense Fund to raise funds to cover protesters’ bail and court fees.
Here is the latest update from the Baton Rouge Legal Defense Fund, 7/12/16:
Thanks To Our 5,242 Donors! Almost Everyone Has Bonded Out
The Legal Team has been working literally 24-7 to track all arrestees, speed up internal processes at the jail, secure bond reductions, pressure judges, post bonds, staff our hotlines, take affidavits, collect evidence, coordinate criminal defense volunteers, draft litigation, train legal observers, staff LO needs, and–YES–get everyone out. Most of the folks who are still in jail as of 11:59 Monday night have priors or are facing more serious charges; we are working on their cases as fast as possible.
Money from this fund is absolutely available to anyone who posted bond on their own and not through the Legal Team. Questions about reimbursements should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you everyone for your generosity! We wish you could see the smiles when we tell people they’re not going to have to worry about paying their legal costs and that 5,242 donors from all over the world threw down for #northbatonrougematters #blacklivesmatter #justiceforaltonsterling.