FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - After the first night of protests led to dozens of arrests, Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux said a judge gave officers the right to detain people without bond for 48 hours over the weekend.
This has raised the bigger question of what’s legally allowable during a protest.
Gladieux explained, "They go in, get their picture taken, get fingerprints, and right back out the door and that’s going to be that. Yeah, judges have the authority to do that.”
David Frank, the president of the Indiana chapter of the National Lawyers Guild confirmed that was allowed by law.
"When you’re being held over the weekend, obviously you’re not immediately able to go in front of a judge, but they should be being released at their initial hearing unless there’s some sort of extraordinary circumstances," Frank said.
However, what Frank says isn’t legal is some of the police action that took place at the protests.
Frank said "Say a protester is in the street, they haven’t dispersed and they’re sitting down. They’re violating the law, but they’re acting non-violently, that doesn’t give an officer carte-blanche to use whatever force they want against that individual. It has to be reasonable in the situation."
What he’s referring to are incidents like Balin Brake, who lost his eye after being hit with a tear gas canister during the protests on Saturday.
Frank explained that while use of tear gas, as long as it’s just a mild irritant can be seen a reasonable, shooting them towards people and whether it skipped off the ground or not, could mean the agency is liable.
Michelle Kelsey is an associate professor and the chair of the Communications Department at Purdue Fort Wayne studying protests throughout history.
She says the biggest issue for protesters is while they may be breaking the law, the response isn't proportional.
"There is, I think a distinction between one protester, for example, tossing or throwing a water bottle at police officers who are in riot gear and the response being to tear gas an entire intersection of protesters," Kelsey said.
Kelsey said this is partly what the civil rights movement was about, civil disobedience to raise awareness, and she says the legality discussions could have been avoided if we saw officers walking with protesters and listening to them on Friday like they did on Sunday.
Kelsey said, "De-escalation tactics, that police know about, are trained in, can work in these types of groups, it just can’t be disingenuous."
Frank said he’s working with other members of the Indiana chapter of the National Lawyers Guild to help connect those who feel they were wrongfully arrested or injured during the protests this past weekend.