U.S. Supreme Court Hands Win to Black Lives Matter Activist

THE U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided with Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson in his ongoing effort to avoid a lawsuit filed by a police officer injured during a 2016 protest in Louisiana triggered by the police killing of a Black man.

The justices threw out a lower court ruling that had allowed the lawsuit to proceed and said that more analysis was needed on whether Louisiana state law allows for such a claim.

McKesson has argued that the rights of freedom of speech and assembly under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment should shield him from the lawsuit that accused him of negligence for leading the protest in Baton Rouge, but the court did not resolve that issue.

“The constitutional issue, though undeniably important, is implicated only if Louisiana law permits recovery under these circumstances in the first place,” the court said in the unsigned ruling.

The officer sustained serious injuries after being struck in the face by a rock or piece of concrete thrown by an unknown person, not by McKesson.

Litigation will now continue in lower courts.

Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas dissented and newly appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate, the ruling said.

The officer, whose identify was not disclosed in the lawsuit, sued the Black Lives Matter organization and McKesson seeking monetary damages over an incident at a July 2016 protest in Baton Rouge. The negligence lawsuit argued that McKesson should have known that violence would result from his actions leading the protest, which was one of many around the country that year arising from incidents involving police and Black individuals.

The protest took place outside the police department in the aftermath of the police killing of Alton Sterling, a Black man, after a struggle outside a convenience store where he was selling homemade CDs. The incident was caught on video.

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