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Case Name Detroit Will Breathe v. Detroit PN-MI-0013
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-12363-RHC-APP ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Policing
Special Collection Police Violence Protests (Spring/Summer 2020)
Case Summary
This lawsuit was filed on August 31, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs included an activist organization called Detroit Will Breathe (DWB) and fourteen individuals. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel on behalf of the National Lawyers ... read more >
This lawsuit was filed on August 31, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs included an activist organization called Detroit Will Breathe (DWB) and fourteen individuals. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild, sued the city of Detroit, Mayor Michael Duggan, Police Chief James Craig, and over one hundred Detroit Police Department officers.

Between May 29, 2020 and August 22, 2020, the plaintiffs participated in protests across Detroit calling for the end of police brutality and racial injustice. The plaintiffs said that they participated in more than 90 protests during this time period, but that the DPD used force on several occasions to quell the protests. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that on June 28 several police officers drove their cars into some of the protest leaders, that on July 10 the DPD used dangerous choke-holds and teargas on peaceful protesters, and that on August 22 the DPD used pepper spray, tear gas, choke-holds, and beatings on demonstrators. Furthermore, the complaint alleged that Detroit imposed a curfew during the protests, but only enforced it against protesters. The plaintiffs alleged that these actions violated the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech and assembly and the Fourth Amendment's protection from excessive force, arrest without probable cause, and false imprisonment. The plaintiffs also claimed that the curfew violated their free speech and free assembly rights because it was not narrowly tailored and was enforced only against protesters. They also alleged that defendants' actions represented retaliation forbidden under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and that Detroit was liable under Monell liability. The plaintiffs requested injunctive, monetary, and declaratory relief, including punitive damages, and asked for attorneys' fees and costs.

That same day, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, which would prohibit the DPD from using weapons against peaceful protesters, arresting protesters without probable cause, and demanding that any protesters they do arrest be given certain amenities (being able to use the bathroom in a timely fashion, necessary medical attention, access to water, etc.).

The case was originally assigned to District Judge Robert H. Cleland and Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti, but was then reassigned to District Judge Laurie J. Michelson and Magistrate Judge David R. Grand on September 1, 2020.

On September 4, 2020, the court partially granted the request for a temporary restraining order (TRO). 2020 WL 5269789. Judge Michelson enjoined the defendants from using weapons against peaceful protesters, from placing individuals in choke-holds or hitting them with vehicles, from using zip ties or handcuffs in a way that causes injury, and arresting demonstrators without probable cause. The order was to last 14 days. However, the defendants thought that the order was one-sided. They submitted a motion to modify the TRO on the grounds that it would allow protesters to break the law without repercussions. Judge Michelson disagreed. On September 16 she issued an order denying the defendants' request to modify the TRO, holding that the TRO in no way allowed plaintiffs or other protesters to break the law without legal consequences -- DPD was still allowed to arrest those that sought to break the law. For good measure, however, the plaintiffs and defendants entered a joint order that set up boundaries for protesters and boundaries for police in monitoring the protesters. This was granted on September 18.

The case is ongoing as of October 13, 2020.

Jack Hibbard - 09/12/2020
Jack Hibbard - 10/13/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Petitions clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Aggressive behavior
Conditions of confinement
Excessive force
False arrest
Over/Unlawful Detention
Pepper/OC spray
Restraints : physical
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Detroit
Detroit Chief of Police James Craig
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
Plaintiff Description Detroit Will Breathe and several individuals
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 08/31/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
2:20-cv-12363 (E.D. Mich.)
PN-MI-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/31/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Verified Complaint for Damages and for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PN-MI-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/31/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 2]
PN-MI-0013-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/31/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order Granting in Part Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 18] (2020 WL 5269789) (E.D. Mich.)
PN-MI-0013-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/04/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order on Defendants' Motion to Modify Temporary Restraining Order [24] [ECF# 37] (E.D. Mich.)
PN-MI-0013-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/16/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Order to Preserve the Status Quo [ECF# 42] (W.D. Mich.)
PN-MI-0013-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Grand, David R. (E.D. Mich.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-9000
Michelson, Laurie Jill (E.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0002 | PN-MI-0013-0004 | PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brown, Melissa A (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0003 | PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Ghannam, Amanda M (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0001 | PN-MI-0013-0003 | PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Goodman, William Harry (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0003 | PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Hurwitz, Julie H. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0003 | PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Riddell, Sean A (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Schulz, Jack (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0001 | PN-MI-0013-0003 | PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Dwyer, Maria (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Trebilcock, Christopher M (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Turner, Reginald M. Jr. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000

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