Washington to pay $1.6M to settle lawsuits after protests at Trump's 2017 inauguration

MICHELLE STODDART
·2 min read

The city of Washington has reached a $1.6 million settlement in two lawsuits that included allegations of arrests without cause and excessive force on protestors during the inauguration of former President Donald Trump in January 2017.

The two lawsuits were brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia and attorney Jefferey Light, on behalf of protesters.

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The ACLU said in a statement about the settlement Monday that the lawsuit alleged that then-Police Chief Peter Newsham and more than 20 officers "engaged in or supervised constitutional violations including mass arrests of demonstrators without probable cause, unlawful conditions of confinement for detainees, and/or use of excessive force."

The ACLU said that even though just a few protesters caused damage and engaged in violence, police rounded up more than 200 protestors and "detained them without access to food, water, or restrooms for up to 16 hours."

PHOTO: Protesters demonstrating against President Donald Trump raise their hands as they are surrounded by police on the sidelines of the inauguration in Washington, D.C, Jan. 20, 2017. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)
PHOTO: Protesters demonstrating against President Donald Trump raise their hands as they are surrounded by police on the sidelines of the inauguration in Washington, D.C, Jan. 20, 2017. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

The Metropolitan Police Department declined to comment after a request from ABC News.

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Protests over Trump's inauguration happened across the country, and in Washington demonstrators clashed with police, damaged property, and even set a limousine on fire. Newsham acknowledged at the time that "a very, very small percentage" of the protesters were violent or destructive.

PHOTO: Police officers detain a protestor before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Zach Gibson/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Police officers detain a protestor before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Zach Gibson/AFP via Getty Images)

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The conduct of Metropolitan Police Department officers was investigated by the city's Police Complaints Board.

In a report the board issued to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in February 2017, the board concluded that, "while in many instances MPD conducted activities in a constitutional manner, there are several instances where the observations made by [the Office of Police Complaints] cause concern and raise questions."

PHOTO: A police officer prepares to fire a 'non-lethal' weapon at protesters during a demonstration after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (John Minchillo/AP)
PHOTO: A police officer prepares to fire a 'non-lethal' weapon at protesters during a demonstration after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (John Minchillo/AP)

The report found that there were incidents including incidents where the police used pepper spray without warning and even threatened journalists.

Washington to pay $1.6M to settle lawsuits after protests at Trump's 2017 inauguration originally appeared on abcnews.go.com