SACRAMENTO, CA — A federal judge rejected the City of Sacramento’s attempt to end a lawsuit against police violence brought by racial justice protesters. The case, White v. City of Sacramento, seeks to stop the City and its Police Department from using discriminatory, violent tactics against people who protest against police violence and white supremacy. Plaintiffs are six people who were brutalized and harassed by the Police Department during protests in 2020 and 2021.
The Police Department has a long history of repressing racial justice protestors with violence. Plaintiffs in this case experienced surveillance by drones and even home raids by the Police Department months after engaging in protest in support of Black lives and against police brutality.
The City and Police Department sought to dismiss the case, arguing, among other things, that the complaint was a “shotgun pleading”- meaning the defendants argued they were overwhelmed by the amount and quality of allegations.
In his order, U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez disagreed. Judge Mendez rejected most of the City and Police Department’s arguments, ruling that plaintiffs’ complaint “is a far cry” from a shotgun pleading.
The Court dismissed plaintiffs’ conspiracy claims and state claims for several of the plaintiffs. However, the Court granted plaintiffs additional time to amend these claims.
Judge Mendez also rejected the City and Police Department’s motions to strike portions of plaintiffs’ complaint which detailed the Police Department’s troubling history of violence, ruling in plaintiffs’ favor.
“We are extremely thrilled by this ruling!” said Pilar Gonzalez Morales, Director of the Accessibility Project at Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC). “This is a victory for our clients and the thousands of racial justice protesters in Sacramento. While the City and Police Department continue to ignore the unconstitutional and violent response by police against its citizens, this decision will allow plaintiffs to go forward in their fight for accountability and justice against police brutality.”
“The Judge has signaled that the horrendous experiences the plaintiffs endured at the hands of Sacramento City Police have a rightful place in the courtroom. The Sacramento Police Department’s actions two years ago created an environment of fear for protestors of police violence by violently beating and surveilling protestors,” said Tifanei Ressl-Moyer, a Senior Staff Attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. “If there are no consequences for the actions of the police, they will continue to act with impunity the next time the people of Sacramento take to the streets to defend Black lives. We welcome this decision by the Federal Court and look forward to holding the City of Sacramento and Sacramento Police Department accountable when we see them in court.”
This lawsuit was filed by the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.