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Case Name Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle v. Baltimore Police Department PN-MD-0010
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-00929-RDB ( D. Md. )
State/Territory Maryland
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
In April 2020, the Baltimore City Policy Department formed a contract with Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS) so that PSS could conduct an Aerial Investigation Research (AIR) pilot program in Baltimore. During the AIR pilot program, PSS plans to fly aircrafts over Baltimore for approximately ... read more >
In April 2020, the Baltimore City Policy Department formed a contract with Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS) so that PSS could conduct an Aerial Investigation Research (AIR) pilot program in Baltimore. During the AIR pilot program, PSS plans to fly aircrafts over Baltimore for approximately twelve hours every day for six months. Once per second, the planes will collect images of approximately ninety percent of the city at a time. This surveillance system would record virtually all of the outdoor movements of all of Baltimore’s 600,000 residents.

On April 9, 2020, the plaintiffs, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle and two individual activists, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. The plaintiffs sued the Baltimore City Police Department under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 2201. The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation of Maryland, sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiffs claimed that the AIR pilot program violates their constitutional rights under the First and Fourth Amendments. Specifically, they claimed that the constant surveillance infringed their reasonable expectation of privacy, resulted in indiscriminate searches, and the data analysis violated the Fourth Amendment. The plaintiffs also claimed that their First Amendment right to freedom of association was violated.

In conjunction with the complaint, the plaintiffs also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent the defendants from operating the AIR pilot program and using any of the data collected from it. On the same day, the court held a telephone hearing and Judge Richard D. Bennet issued an order restraining the defendants from conducting any surveillance flights as part of the AIR program until the court issued a decision on the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction.

On April 21, 2020 the court conducted a telephone hearing and heard arguments on the motion for a preliminary injunction. On April 24, 2020 Judge Bennet issued an opinion denying the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction. 2020 WL 1975380. On the same day, the plaintiffs filed a notice of interlocutory appeal. The case is now on interlocutory appeal in the Fourth Circuit. Case No. 20-1495. As of May 2020, the plaintiffs’ have filed a brief and are awaiting a response brief from the defendants. The case remains open.

Sabrina Glavota - 05/22/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Confidentiality
Pattern or Practice
Search policies
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Baltimore Police Department
Plaintiff Description Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS) - a grassroots think-tank that advances the policy interests of black people in the Baltimore community two individual activists in the Baltimore community
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2020 - 2020
Filed 04/09/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:20-cv-00929 (D. Md.)
PN-MD-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PN-MD-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Order [ECF# 15] (D. Md.)
PN-MD-0010-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 32] (2020 WL 1975380) (D. Md.)
PN-MD-0010-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Bennett, Richard D. (D. Md.) show/hide docs
PN-MD-0010-0002 | PN-MD-0010-0003 | PN-MD-0010-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gorski, Ashley (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MD-0010-0001 | PN-MD-0010-9000
Kaufman, Brett Max (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MD-0010-0001 | PN-MD-0010-9000
Ramirez, Alexia (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MD-0010-0001 | PN-MD-0010-9000
Rocah, David Robert (Maryland) show/hide docs
PN-MD-0010-0001 | PN-MD-0010-9000
Wessler, Nathan Freed (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MD-0010-0001 | PN-MD-0010-9000
Wizner, Ben (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MD-0010-0001 | PN-MD-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Lynch, Kara K. (Maryland) show/hide docs
PN-MD-0010-9000
Moore, Dana Petersen (Maryland) show/hide docs
PN-MD-0010-9000
Walden, Elisabeth (Maryland) show/hide docs
PN-MD-0010-9000

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