The world is becoming a more complicated place every day. Last summer, then-president Donald Trump self-prescribed a name for himself as the “law and order” president in response to Black Lives Matter protests — some of which involved rioting while the majority remained peaceful. He called in the National Guard, intimidated protesters, and even illegally forced peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square with force so he could take a picture with an upside down Bible in front of a church across the street.
When his own supporters became violent earlier this year, the National Guard was nowhere to be seen until the pressure was so great he had no choice but to call them in.
Don’t believe it? There have been studies conducted on the gap in forceful response of authorities between the two groups. Police use more force when dealing with liberal protesters than they do conservative protesters — which is part of the reason that many conservative protesters believe that police are “on their side” (apparently rightly so).
All this begs the question: What can peaceful protesters who were injured by the police do?
The answer might scare you. For starters, let’s talk about the aforementioned Lafayette Square protest. Trump had no lawful reason to break up a peaceful protest with force. He essentially ordered the National Guard to assault and batter those protesters — and when someone commits assault and battery, you have every legal right to defend yourself. That means if every single one of those protesters who were injured began to fire on the National Guard, they would have had every legal right to do so.
But would the courts see it that way? Almost certainly not. Protesters who go to court of police brutality in situations of protest very rarely win. A personal injury attorney will still urge you to try.
You need to return to the scene of the crime, as it were. Obviously you can’t approach the police in order to obtain evidence — which is what you would normally do following an assault — but you can still go about it yourself. Many protests occur in cities where every square foot is under the watch of a camera. Find those cameras and the footage that shows you were unlawfully attacked, and you might be onto something. If you can locate additional witnesses, you have even more proof.
Negligence cases are difficult to win in general, but even more difficult where the authorities are concerned. Unfortunately, the system “works” best when police, prosecutors, and judges all work together, which makes it difficult for any of those three legs of law enforcement to attack the other.
And police sometimes have immunity from certain types of negligence. To prosecute or sue a police officer, a higher standard of proof is usually required than if you were filing suit against Joe Shmoe from Napersville, Illinois.
One last thing: it never hurts to try. Personal injury attorneys work on contingency, which means they only get paid when you win. And that means you’ll know you have a winnable case — if they decide to take it on.