A class-action lawsuit filed in federal court today accuses the city of San Jose, mayor and police chief of failing to protect people injured and harassed during a Donald Trump rally last month. The 44-page complaint filed by 14 individuals who attended the June 2 event at the McEnery Convention Center downtown allege they were injured in riots that resulted from the campaign event for Trump, the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee.
After the rally attended by an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 people, many were instructed by police to take the east-northeast exit to Market Street in the direction of 400 protesters against the Republican candidate and were blocked from going the other way, according to the suit. Rally attendees were allegedly beaten, robbed, struck by various objects including eggs and bottles and insulted by the protesters in front of the officers, according to the suit. More than 250 police officers dressed in riot gear and assigned to work the event didn’t answer pleas for help from Trump supporters and weren’t “permitted” to help them as they left the venue, the suit alleges.
The complaint alleges violation of the plaintiffs’ rights to due process, freedom of speech and peaceful assembly under the Constitution. San Francisco-based attorneys Harmeet Dhillon, Krista Baughman and Gregory Michael are representing the plaintiffs, which include an unnamed 14-year-old Hollister boy. “We seek redress for the serious physical and other injuries our clients and the class suffered as a direct result of the City’s acts and omissions, as well as the deliberate acts of the individual assailants,” Dhillon said in a statement. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and police Chief Eddie Garcia were among the defendants who were each a “final policymaker for the City in directing the officers actions,” the suit alleges. Anthony Yi, 24, and two other juvenile suspects arrested by police were also named as defendants on the suit for alleged assault and battery on certain plaintiffs.
The complaint also calls Liccardo an “outspoken critic of Trump” who blamed the Republican candidate for the violence in a statement issued a day after the event. “There is no place for violence in our political process, or in our city. The ludicrous accusation that I somehow directed the police department to ‘stand down’ at the rally is utterly false. In fact, I have no authority to issue such an order,” Liccardo said in a statement.
“The San Jose Police Department has successfully identified and arrested twenty perpetrators of violence at the rally, and additional warrants have been issued. We will do everything necessary to support the successful prosecution of the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law,” Liccardo said. Garcia has also stated before the rally that police would protect the First Amendment, one of the constitutional rights the defendants allegedly violated, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs seek damages in an amount to be determined through a jury trial, according to the suit. City Attorney Rick Doyle said this afternoon that the city hasn’t been served the complaint, but police did everything they could to protect the crowd including protesters and rally attendees. “We’ve made a number of arrests and we’ve been trying to get to the bottom of who should be held accountable,” Doyle said. The city attorney added that the police department shouldn’t be held responsible for the “unfortunate situation” following the rally.
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