In the wake of George Zimmerman's acquittal for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the Black Lives Matter movement was born. What began as a Twitter hashtag coalesced into a national movement, organizing protests of police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, among others, and campaigns against police violence and systematic racism towards black people.
These political demonstrations have not always been peaceful, however, and some have resulted in injuries to protesters and police. Two of those in particular have spawned injury lawsuits against Black Lives Matter, claiming protest organizers are liable for police officer injuries.
The first suit comes from Enrique Zamarripa, father of slain Dallas Police Officer Patrict Zamarripa, who was killed by a sniper during July protest in the city. The elder Zamarripa is seeking $550 million in damages, calling Black Lives Matter "a violent and revolutionary criminal gang." And the lawsuit names an impressive list of defendants, Fox News reports:
Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam; Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network; Black Lives Matter organizers Rashad Turner, Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, Deray [sic] McKesson and Johnetta Elzie; Malik Zulu Shabazz, leader of the New Black Panthers Party; and George Soros, a supporter of Black Lives Matter.
Not named in the suit? Next Generation Action Network, the group that organized the July 7 march. The complaint also has some interesting language, claiming Black Lives Matter "has in fact incited and committed further violence, severe bodily injury and death against police officers of all races and ethnicities, Jews, and Caucasians."
This echoes another Dallas lawsuit, this one filed by a current Dallas Police Department officer, alleging the movement incites "their supporters and others to engage in threats of and attacks to cause serious bodily injury or death upon police officers and other law enforcement persons of all races and ethnicities including but not limited to Jews, Christians and Caucasians." And the list of defendants is the same as well, only with Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and Hillary Clinton added for good measure.
Both plaintiffs are represented by the same attorney, Larry Klayman.
In Louisiana, a police officer is suing Black Lives Matter and activist DeRay McKesson for injuries sustained during a protest after Alton Sterling was gunned down at point-blank range in the parking lot of a convenience store in South Baton Rouge where he sold CDs. The officer, who filed the claim as "John Doe," says he was hit in the face by a piece of concrete or a "rock-like substance" thrown by a protester, and that the officer "lost teeth and had injuries to his jaw and brain," according to the Louisiana Weekly.
Although John Doe does not allege McKesson actually threw the object, he claims McKesson "was in charge of the protests and he was seen and heard giving orders throughout the day and night of the protests." As far as Black Lives Matter goes, the movement has 30 local chapters nationwide, yet remains a decentralized network with no formal hierarchy so determining who, exactly, would be responsible for paying damages in a lost lawsuit remains to be seen.