SACRAMENTO — Racial justice protesters recently filed suit against the City of Sacramento and the Sacramento Police Department for patterns of brutalization by police. Plaintiffs allege abuse during Black Lives Matter protests in 2020; the Sacramento Police Department then continued that violence during the January 2021 insurgent protests at the state capital, allowing white supremacist and pro-police groups to demonstrate unharmed but inflicting violence on residents who showed up in support of Black lives. The suit seeks to end the City’s discriminatory, violent tactics against racial justice protesters.
Plaintiffs are represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, and law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
“The Sacramento Police Department have blatantly violated anti-police-brutality protesters’ Constitutional right to assemble and demonstrate,” said Tifanei Ressl-Moyer, Thurgood Marshall Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. “Our plaintiffs have been so severely targeted, threatened, and brutalized by police, they no longer fully engage in their First Amendment right to protest. They continue to suffer tremendous physical, psychological, and emotional harm arising from the excessive force and discrimination.”
Plaintiffs experienced harassment and surveillance treated by police for engaging in anti-racist protesting. One plaintiff’s home was raided months after participating in one May 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in Sacramento by sixty police officers, including SWAT units in tactical gear, gang units, and investigators. He, his pregnant wife, and elderly parents were all handcuffed in zip ties for hours and the plaintiff was arrested.
“I come from a family that has been involved in racial justice activism for decades. The recent racist killings by police made me even more committed to anti-racism and standing in solidarity with Black people. That is why I took part in protests during the summer of 2020, but the extreme and discriminatory responses from police have made it too dangerous. They targeted me for my anti-racism activities and endangered the lives of my pregnant wife and unborn child. This is a type of trauma and it’s hard to overcome,” said Jeronimo Aguilar, one of the plaintiffs in the case.
“This lawsuit challenges a history of racist policing that has existed in Sacramento and affected generations of anti-racist, anti-police brutality protesters. The Sacramento Police Department’s response, and the City’s encouragement of their response, to the 2020 and 2021 protests is but the tip of the iceberg. Our clients, and the community at large, seek an end to this traumatizing, violent history,” said Pilar Gonzalez Morales, Director of the Accessibility Project at CREEC.
“Wilson Sonsini is deeply committed to aiding in efforts aimed at achieving justice and equity across the country. We are energized to join LCCRSF and CREEC on this case,” stated Luke Liss, Senior Counsel and Pro Bono Counsel from Wilson Sonsini.
Sam Lew, 415-272-8022, firstname.lastname@example.org
A recording of the press conference can be viewed here.
The Complaint can be viewed here.