SUPPORT THE LITIGATION BY PEACEFUL PROTESTORS

SUPPORT THE LITIGATION BY PEACEFUL PROTESTORS GASSED BY CITY OF RICHMOND POLICE ON JUNE 1, 2020 AT THE LEE MONUMENT


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THIS HAS TO STOP!
- Richmond police knowingly failed to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution, and instead knowingly and maliciously violated the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on June 1, 2020.  The City of Richmond has made it clear that it will not seek justice but is spreading misinformation and lies - most recently, the Mayor of the City of Richmond wrote an op-ed in the New York Times spreading false information claiming - "the tear gas, as we later learned, had been used unintentionally."


Help fund the costs for litigation demanding accountability and transparency!  Thomas H Roberts & Associates PC filed suit against officers for violations of the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments, in state and federal court.


On June 1, 2020, a group of people peacefully assembled to exercise their 1st Amendment right to protest police brutality exemplified most recently by the unlawful killing of George Floyd whose life was snuffed from him by the police officer while he lay helpless in handcuffs (a violation of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution) and to protest racism.  The group had been escorted to the Lee Monument by police to exercise their 1st Amendment rights.  The group was not engaged in any unlawful acts.  They were not in violation of the 8:00 p.m. curfew.  


A second contingency of Richmond police officers appeared at the Lee Circle approximately 7:31 p.m. in a convoy of vehicles and establishing a military styled skirmish line designed to maximize a “kill zone” along the northwestern side of the monument.  This skirmish line was heavily armed and armored, wearing body armor and masks, and most had AR-style assault weapons and their side-arms. The firearms were then pointed at the people assembled. Upon the arrival of an armored vehicle and additional police, a Richmond police officer threw tear-gas canister into the assembly, quickly followed by other officers while many protesters were kneeling with their hands in the air chanting “hands up, don’t shoot”  The people assembled had not engaged in violence or threats of violence to person or property.  There was no command to disburse, let alone a lawful command to do so.  It is unacceptable that men and women, gathering peacefully to protest police misconduct, were assaulted in this way by police.  One of the persons gassed was Jonathan Arthur, Esq., an attorney with the Virginia Civil Rights Law firm of Thomas H. Roberts & Associates, PC.57327227_1622134121616101_r.jpeg

In a recent filing, the law firm demanding access to the specific officers’ identities described the sequence of events:

* Altogether, an estimated fifty to sixty officers were deployed to Lee Monument by 7:35:30 (not including those remaining at their vehicles), where the last call (at 7:28:30 p.m.) reported an orderly crowd, rather than Stuart Monument, which was actively being threatened.  The officers that did arrive observed an orderly demonstration. No material or debris was thrown or launched at the officers responding to Lee Monument, prior to the tear gas being deployed at 7:35:30. No individuals approached the officers responding to Lee Monument in a hostile manner. No ropes or attempt to destroy Lee Monument was observed. No order was given to disperse. No warning was given that chemical agents would be deployed. There was no evidence of a need to deploy chemical agents, much less an emergency demanding their immediate use without a warning.
* The fact that fifty to sixty officers responded to Lee Monument, when the communications all point to a threat at Stuart Monument—event giving the particular cross street by radio—point to an underlying planned response. But no information has been provided to evaluate what the plan was, who made the plan or issued the preliminary orders, when the plan was made, and why the plan was implemented to include Lee Monument.
* At about 7:31:22 p.m., a sergeant, whose identity is believed to be known, in a vehicle bound for Lee Monument, specifically ordered the gas assault at Lee Monument. He placed a radio command: “Gas masks on.” He then directed a particular officer, using a nickname, to “put it on them when you get there, brother.” The fact that he was bound for Lee Monument, not Stuart Monument, is demonstrated through the body camera footage of his driver, which shows that this sergeant directed the driver, at about 7:32:21 p.m. to go to Lee Monument and not Stuart Monument: “Straight ahead. It’s the biggest one here.”
* At about 7:31:36 p.m., the observer at Stuart Monument reported having eyes “on the guy with the main rope.”
* At about 7:31:48 p.m., a command, believed to be from the sergeant that ordered the attack at Lee Monument, went out by radio, “All units, hold the air.  The strike team is coming. We’re going to need the air.”
* At about 7:32:26 p.m., an unidentified individual by radio reported, “Everyone is scattering now.” This may have been a call from either Lee or Stuart Monument, because the police began to arrive at Lee Monument at about 7:32:10 p.m., and part of the crowd promptly dispersed.
* Despite this call about everyone scattering, the sergeant that ordered the assault on Lee Monument makes a radio call at about 7:32:31 p.m.: “Calvary is coming, LT.” “LT” is believed to be a reference to the commanding lieutenant, but his identity is unknown.
* At 7:32:39 p.m., there is a radio call from an unidentified individual, “Get gas, boys. Get gas.” At approximately 7:32:46 p.m., the sergeant that ordered the attach at Lee Monument issued further orders. He stated that he wanted “a complete perimeter around this monument. I want total 360 coverage of this entire monument.” The only monument he appears to be references is the Lee Monument. There is no indication that this officer, or any officer, had any information justifying dispersing the crowd at Lee Monument, four blocks removed from the events at Stuart Monument.
* At about 7:32:52 p.m., a radio call, believed to be from an unidentified officer at Lee Monument, reported that the crowd was dispersing and “going north.” There was indeed a large number of demonstrators from Lee Monument leaving the protest and moving north, apparently due to the police presence, and the presence of a sniper in plain view, pointing a rifle at the crowd.
* At about 7:33:05 p.m., the sergeant that order the attack at Lee Monument arrived on the scene. At 7:33:08 p.m., he orders the “strike team” (which appears to mean the officers present and those arriving) to engage “the crowd.” He is the first officer to cross Lee Circle and take up a position in front of the sidewalk on the inside of Lee Circle, though other officers follow him. At 7:33:22 p.m., he orders the “strike team” to “form a line.” At 7:33:32 p.m., this sergeant orders “as soon as you are free, hit them with gas.” The transmission was partially cut off, but video shows it was intended to be directed at a particular officer or two, including the officer he previously directed to “put it on them.” At about 7:34:20 p.m., this sergeant orders, “Give me a 360,” and directs another named sergeant to “get your team to watch both sides and the back.” The officers immediately respond by forming a box formation.
* At about 7:34:52 p.m., there is a radio call from an unidentified voice, indicating “Team, we’ll be there momentarily.” There is no information who this is coming from. At approximately 7:34:59 p.m., another call from another unidentified voice states, “Do you still have people coming?” This is follows with a call “Five-oh-one, if you only have one strike team coming, you may want to send two, please.”  Meanwhile, an armored vehicle with a SWAT team arrives and slowly begins to deploy.
* The members of the SWAT team are largely unknown. This is significant, because those individuals may have no liability.
* Before the SWAT team moves out and away from the vehicle, another call comes from an unidentified voice, at approximately 7:35:17 p.m., “We’re all here…” The video shows that two police vehicles approach the police line around Lee Monument, and as the approach, the sergeant that ordered the attack turns and nods and signals. Two officers, one of them being the officer told to “put it on them,” respond to this by pulling the pins on cannisters of tear gas. The officer told to “put it on them” threw the first tear gas at approximately 7:35:30, and it explodes at approximately 7:35:31 in front of the crowd.
* No information has been provided about who was in these two vehicles that approached. It appears the sergeant waited for the vehicles to arrive. This could be significant in evaluating the appropriate defendants.
* This officer that threw the first cannister manages to launch a rocket propelled cannister a few seconds later. At the same time, another officer, from one of the arriving trucks, throws a cannister. Another cannister is thrown by the officer adjacent to the first officer, because he had fumbled in pulling the pin, delaying him. This cannister is likely responsible for the injuries of Plaintiff Keenan Angel. Other officers fire, many of whom can be seen on the footage but are not currently identifiable. Some identified and unidentified officers begin to use their “foggers,” or spray cans of chemical agents.
* As noted above, it appears that none of the officers that threw or launched tear gas had body cameras operating. As a result, their identities are unknown, or have only been deduced by careful and time-consuming research and analysis. Additionally, knowing the individuals that used the foggers is necessary to determine the appropriate defendants.
* At about 7:36:01 p.m., the sergeant that ordered the attack used hand signals to lead several of the officers along the southern side of the circle, into the remaining demonstrators, using automatic rifles to threaten, and foggers to spray the crowd. This sergeant then personally sprays Ryan Tagg, without provocation or justification, at approximately 7:36:24 p.m.
* Meanwhile, at about 7:36:02, the officer that threw the first cannister and launched the second canister proceeded to launch a cannister across the smoke-filled circle toward the people on the north side of the circle. This cannister landed closed to Chris Gaylor, as depicted in Exhibit 8 of the Complaint, and caused his injuries.
* The last protester is then seen leaving the circle at about 7:37:07 p.m., as officers seize control of Lee Circle. Unidentified officers continued to launch cannisters toward protesters that moved out of the circle and down the street. Protesters gather on some of the side streets, as the police form lines in front of them.
* The police did not deploy chemical agents at Stuart Monument until approximately 23:39:10, several minutes after the attack at Lee Monument.
The assembly gradually dispersed as 8 p.m. approaches, and the police depart a few minutes before 8 p.m.
 

The civil rights law firm, Thomas H Roberts & Associates PC  filed suit on behalf of numerous individuals whose civil rights were violated.  The case is styled Jarrod Blackwood, et al, individually and on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals v. John/Jane Does I-X et al. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond. 

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Your help in funding the costs of the litigation is appreciated. In the event that there is an outpouring of support, any money not needed in this case will be used in similar cases standing for Constitutional liberties!  The funds are administered by Freedom Works Foundation, a Virginia nonprofit corporation, organized to educate and promote civil liberties and to defend the US Constitution.  To read more about this suit CLICK HERE !57327227_1622133210657149_r.jpeg

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Tom Roberts 
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Richmond, VA
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