Indiana ACLU chapter sues City of Fort Wayne, Allen County Sheriff's Department for tear gas use during protests

The ACLU says the suit calls for 'the City of Fort Wayne and the Allen County Sheriff to immediately stop the use of chemical agents and projectiles on protesters.'

Posted: Jun 26, 2020 9:16 AM
Updated: Jun 26, 2020 2:50 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana announced Thursday they have filed a lawsuit against law enforcement agencies in Fort Wayne after their use of tear gas against those who were protesting police brutality over the past four weeks.

The ACLU says the suit calls for "the City of Fort Wayne and the Allen County Sheriff to immediately stop the use of chemical agents and projectiles on protesters."


Protest pictures Fort Wayne. Credit: Eva Baez

The lawsuit seeking an injunction and damages was filed by the ACLU of Indiana on behalf of the protesters.

In recent weeks, FWPD and members of the Allen County Sheriff’s Department have fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper spray at protesters during numerous demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and they have taken other actions to discourage lawful protest activities.

MORE: Plaintiff listed in ACLU Indiana lawsuit against Fort Wayne arrested 1 day after filing

The lawsuit argues that the use of chemical agents and projectiles for crowd control violates the First and Fourth Amendments.

It adds that FWPD and members of the ACSD deployed chemical irritants and taken other actions against protesters downtown on several occasions over the past month.

According to the ACLU of Indiana complaint, on May 29, protesters marched to the nearby Martin Luther King Bridge where police blocked protesters from leaving the bridge in either direction and then shot tear gas canisters at them.

FULL PROTEST COVERAGE

The ACLU says FWPD and members of the ACSD have used force to prevent peaceful protesters from gathering on the Courthouse Green and in other public places in Fort Wayne.

More recently, on June 14, as protesters dispersed to get away from the weapons being deployed, police dragged protesters out of private businesses in which they were seeking shelter, according to a release.

“Police must not respond to protesters speaking out against police brutality with yet more brutality. We will not let these violent attacks on our constitutional rights go unchecked,” said Ken Falk, legal director at the ACLU of Indiana. “Excessive use of force against protesters chills free speech, and widens the rift of distrust between communities and the police that are sworn to serve them.”

This lawsuit comes just a week after the ACLU of Indiana filed a similar lawsuit against the City of Indianapolis.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.

FOX 55 has reached out to city and county officials for comment and will provide additional updates later on.

You can view the full court filing below.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 13405
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion996911740
Lake53548966
Allen40529675
St. Joseph35596550
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Grant7032174
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Morgan6557139
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Henry5699103
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Harrison435072
Gibson434792
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Switzerland7858
Union71010
Ohio56511
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1082815

Reported Deaths: 19428
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1258081400
Cuyahoga1119722115
Hamilton799721205
Montgomery514061014
Summit47145945
Lucas42119788
Butler38338584
Stark32273906
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Mahoning21546588
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Clermont19761238
Delaware18512133
Licking16418212
Fairfield16176199
Trumbull16032468
Medina15268264
Greene15063244
Clark13983299
Wood13080189
Portage12839203
Allen11639232
Richland11349199
Miami10670217
Muskingum8803133
Wayne8793211
Columbiana8778229
Pickaway8564121
Marion8523135
Tuscarawas8473244
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Huron5430119
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Auglaize490784
Mercer480385
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Madison435661
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Preble379598
Clinton372163
Ottawa366679
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Williams339275
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Jackson312551
Perry294950
Morrow284939
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Holmes2603101
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Pike237634
Gallia235349
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Paulding172640
Meigs144840
Noble133337
Monroe132042
Morgan108423
Harrison108137
Vinton83115
Unassigned02
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