KRMFL Sues City In Two Cases Over Tear-Gassing Of Protesters

KRMFL is counsel to two groups of plaintiffs who have sued the City of Philadelphia for its unprecedented aggressive response to protesters marching in support of police reform in the wake of the May 25, 2020, murder of George Floyd.

Between May 25 and May 30 there were daily protests in Philadelphia and across the country. Demonstrators called for systemic reform and accountability for police violence and declared that Black Lives Matter. In response to these protests against brutality, the Philadelphia Police Department responded with even more brutality. By May 31, the City’s leadership made the unprecedented decision to authorize the use of highly dangerous tactics: tear gas, pepper spray, and so-called less-than-lethal munitions, more commonly referred to as “rubber bullets.”  That afternoon and evening, police operating on and around 52nd Street–known as historically Black West Philadelphia’s Main Street–indiscriminately fired tear gas and munitions at peaceful protesters and residents who were merely standing in front of their homes. The next day, June 1, when the largest demonstration of the week led to marchers entering the Vine Street Expressway in Center City, police, without warning, trapped the demonstrators on the highway and fired tear gas and munitions at them.

These extraordinary and unjustified actions over a two-day period caused significant physical and emotional harm to countless people who had done nothing to justify such aggressive responses.

The cases filed today address both incidents.

In Anthony Smith et al. v. City of Philadelphia, KRMFL has joined with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Abolitionist Law Center to bring suit on behalf of 13 plaintiffs who were harmed on and around 52nd Street on May 31.  Read the Smith complaint here.

And, in Delane Weltch et al. v. City of Philadelphia, KRMFL’s partners, David Rudovsky, Paul Messing, Jonathan H. Feinberg, and Susan M. Lin have brought suit on behalf of 41 plaintiffs who were subjected to the City’s unlawful actions on the Vine Street Expressway on June 1. Read the Weltch complaint here.

Both cases allege that the City caused multiple violations of our clients’ constitutional rights and seek damages for the harms and losses suffered by our clients.

The cases were filed in coordination with Riley H. Ross III, Kevin V. Mincey, Thomas O. Fitzpatrick, Shabrei M. Parker, Paul J. Hetznecker, Marni Jo Snyder, Stephen D. Stewart Jr., and Michael Coard, who filed a complaint in Diamonik Hough et al. v. City of Philadelphia et al., addressing both the incidents from 52nd Street and the Vine Street Expressway.

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