Richmond, Va – A judge in Richmond denied an emergency motion from the ACLU on Tuesday asking for a ban on police using chemical weapons on protesters in Richmond.
The ACLU of Virginia filed the lawsuit on Friday on behalf of protesters and the youth activists of the Virginia Student Power Network against the City of Richmond, the Richmond Police Department and the Virginia State Police for violating their constitutional rights to free speech, assembly and protest.
In their announcement, the ACLU said that police officers violated protesters’ right to assemble and their freedom of speech. They also stated that law enforcement violated the state code in declaring an unlawful assembly.
However, Richmond City Circuit Judge Beverly W. Snukals denied the motion on Tuesday. “Plaintiffs have not established that harm is certain or of such imminence that there is a clear and present need for such equitable relief,”
The ACLU expressed their disappointment in the decision while vowing to continue pursuing this lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs.
“We’re disappointed with the court’s decision and we will continue to fight in court to bring justice to people who are speaking out against systemic, anti-Black racism by continuing to pursue this lawsuit on behalf of the Virginia Student Power Network and individual protestors.” said the ACLU in a press release.
“While the court’s opinion suggests that the appointment of yet another new police chief in Richmond leaves open the possibility that the tactics of police might change, we fear the violent police response to protesters will remain the same as the faces in the chief’s uniform have changed.”
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney officially introduced the new Chief, Gerald Smith, on Sunday. Smith was deputy-Chief in Charlotte-Mecklenburg where police are also facing criticism for their use of chemicals to try and squeal protests.
The two nights after the official announcement of Smith’s arrival have remained peaceful as police officers have not deployed any chemicals into crowds of citizens protesting across the city.
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