Judge denies ACLU’s request to stop police from using chemical irritants

Judge denies ACLU’s request to stop police from using chemical irritants
Tensions between police and protesters flared again, as Richmond police declare an unlawful assembly for the second consecutive night - this time in front of city hall. (Source: NBC12/Eric Everington)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A judge has denied the emergency request by lawyers from the Virginia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union to bar police in the state from using chemical irritants or other devices to disperse protesters.

“We’re disappointed with the court’s decision and we will continue to fight in court to bring justice to people who are speaking out against systemic, anti-Black racism by continuing to pursue this lawsuit on behalf of the Virginia Student Power Network and individual protestors. While the court’s opinion suggests that the appointment of yet another new police chief in Richmond leaves open the possibility that the tactics of police might change, we fear the violent police response to protesters will remain the same as the faces in the chief’s uniform have changed,” the ACLU said in a release.

ACLU attorneys argued in a Richmond court Monday that police violated protesters’ constitutional rights to speech by using these devices to disperse a protest outside city hall.

“We’re also disappointed that the court raised questions about whether Virginians have a right to challenge in state courts unconstitutional police actions and violations of their civil rights under the Virginia constitution. We call on the General Assembly to take action at their upcoming special session to ensure that there is an unquestioned right to sue on constitutional and civil rights claims in state court,” the ACLU said.

This comes after the group filed a lawsuit last week, claiming protesters had their constitutional rights violated when police forcefully broke up a demonstration at City Hall.

They say many protesters were injured when police deployed tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Meanwhile, police say they were attacked with rocks and other objects.

Stay with NBC12 for updates as this story develops.

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