December 21, 2020
AT THE END of August, activists in Detroit, like those in dozens of U.S. cities, sued their local government for its police department’s reaction to this year’s Black Lives Matter mobilization. Their complaint alleges that Detroit cops “repeatedly responded with violence” when they took to the streets and includes photos and descriptions of some of the gruesome resulting injuries: bruised and broken ribs, concussions, a collapsed lung, a fractured pelvis. In light of this brutality, the protesters asked a federal judge to bar the police from using “tools of excessive force,” like chemical weapons, sound cannons, and rubber bullets, against them.
Less than a month later, after the court issued temporary orders restricting the cops’ use of force, the city filed its official response. It includes a line-by-line denial of every brutality accusation — and a countersuit.
Detroit’s demonstrators are part of a “civil conspiracy,” the city’s countersuit alleges, “to disturb the peace, engage in disorderly conduct, incite riots, destroy public property,” and resist police orders, among other “illegal acts.” The countercomplaint asks the court to issue judgments declaring that the protesters engaged in this conspiracy and “defamed” the mayor and police, and to award the city damages….