Black Unity files civil rights lawsuit against Springfield police

The lawsuit filed by the Civil Liberties Defense Center alleges Black Unity members were assaulted and arrested during a peaceful march on July 29, 2020, in Springfield.

Posted: Mar 9, 2021 8:55 AM

EUGENE, Ore. – Black Unity filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Monday against the City of Springfield, Springfield Police Chief Richard Lewis and other members of the Springfield Police Department.

Amber Fossen, Springfield public information officer, said the City of Springfield received a copy of the lawsuit Monday and is reviewing it.

The lawsuit filed by the Civil Liberties Defense Center alleges Black Unity members were assaulted and arrested during a peaceful march on July 29, 2020, in Springfield. They claim their constitutional rights were violated during the march and that two other people were injured while filming the interactions that day.

The lawsuit alleges that Springfield police violated the rights of protesters and others when they stopped the peaceful march on a public street in Thurston, while allowing the actions of counter protesters to continue. The Black Unity march was intended to bring attention to racist symbols that included a noose found hanging from a tree in Springfield, the lawsuit states.

The complaint alleges the officers’ actions funneled protesters into an area where there were violent anti-Black Lives Matter protesters.

The lawsuit says Springfield Police Department is liable for the constitutional violations due to its policies and failures in leadership, inadequate training in the constitutional rights of protestors and reasonable use of force, as well as other claims.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Black Unity, Black Unity members Martin Allums and Tyshawn Ford, as well as Lane County residents Mya Lansing and and Austin Johns.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Eugene. A link to the lawsuit can be found here.

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