Activists sue Baton Rouge police over treatment of protestors

A memorial for Alton Sterling at the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge. Sterling was fatally shot by a Louisiana police officer last week

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The lawsuit alleges that the police used excessive force, physical and verbal abuse, and wrongful arrests to disperse protestors who were gathered peacefully to speak out against the police killing of Alton Sterling.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the ACLU, the Black Youth Project and the Louisiana chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which had legal observers on hand during Sunday's protests on Sunday.

- Authorities used "unconstitutional levels of force, including physically tackling nonviolent demonstrators and use mace, taser charges, and/or pepper spray on nonviolent protesters".

The plaintiffs are asking for an immediate temporary restraining order against the state police, Baton Rouge law- enforcement agencies and the district attorney, with the intent of restricting how protesters can be apprehended during future rallies.

In the first few days after 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot and killed after being pinned down by two white police officers in Baton Rouge, police took a reserved approach to enforcement, keeping a low profile as hundreds gathered outside the convenience store where Sterling died. Police also said that arrests were made after some protesters threw pieces of concrete at officers Sunday.

Calling it a "substantial, credible threat" to police, authorities in Louisiana have arrested three suspects accused of stealing at least eight handguns in an alleged plot to harm police officers in the Baton Rouge area.

Since Sterling was shot and killed by police officers last week, heated protests have erupted in Louisiana's capital city as militarized police officers wearing riot gear have faced off against demonstrators in scenes broadcast widely online and on television. Officers were investigating a call about a man with a gun outside the convenience store where the elder Sterling sold CDs.

Police said their aggressive actions were prompted by a suspect in a burglary saying he and others stole several guns "to harm police officers", Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. said at a news conference Tuesday. She said that she saw "assault weapons pointed at [the protestors] with fingers on the triggers, some dragged across the cement, their clothes ripped off of them". The lawsuit claims that the arrests interfered with the protesters' constitutional rights. Officials also said they only put on riot gear after uncovering a plot where four people broke into a pawn shop seeking guns they planned to use to attack officers.

Protesters flooded the streets of Baton Rouge after Alton Sterling's death. "Well, this is the reason, because we had credible threats against the lives of law enforcement in this city", Dabadie said. They called on a fourth suspect to turn himself in.

Alton Sterling's son spoke of the protests while addressing reporters Wednesday morning.

State police are declining to comment on the ACLU lawsuit at this time.

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