The Civil Liberties Defense Center of Eugene filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Springfield, its police chief, and 28 officers on Monday in regards to a Black Lives Matter protest last year.
The suit, filed on behalf of Black Unity, a racial justice advocacy group, and two others who were filming the protest, claims their constitutional rights were violated by the Springfield police, including Chief Richard Lewis, at a July 29, 2020, protest in Thurston.
The legal complaint alleges that Black Unity member and plaintiff Tyshawn Ford was violently pulled out of a crowd, knelt on, and punched twice by an officer while under the control of other officers. Ford was later arrested.
“The police in Springfield have shown time and time again showed that they do not value people of color and they don’t care about peaceful protesting, they just want to go out there and flash their badge and show that they have more power than the rest of us,” Ford said at a March 8 press conference in Eugene. Ford said he supports abolishing the police.
The July 29 protest last year was held partly in response to a noose that had been displayed outside a Thurston residence. The complaint alleges officers halted a peaceful Black Lives Matter march and encouraged counter protesters. The suit also claims the Springfield Police Department used excessive force and unlawfully detained protesters.
The city of Springfield did not comment.
The full complaint can be found here.
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