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Temporary restraining order limiting CMPD’s use of riot control agents extended, clarified by judge

Updated: Jun. 26, 2020 at 4:35 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A Mecklenburg County judge extended a temporary restraining order which limits when CMPD can use tear gas and other crowd control measures on Friday.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of protesters against CMPD after an incident on June 2, where protesters say they were trapped by police.

[Protesters sue CMPD over 4th Street violence; judge restricts force at Juneteenth march]

The State Bureau of Investigations later discovered the protesters had a couple of ways to escape.

This is just the beginning of the civil case.

They are now waiting for preliminary injunction hearing to be scheduled.

Some protesters attended the hearing on Friday morning.

For protester Arthur Stevenson, it was important for him to be inside the courtroom anytime he says his freedom of speech is being discussed.

“We can’t even go in the street and say Black lives matter? That’s what you’re mad about? Our fist up?” Stevenson said.

Stevenson said this lawsuit is important to him because he wants to make sure his Freedom of Speech is upheld.

“I want my kids, when I have some, to know they can open their mouth and say what they want, as long as they’re not offending anyone, not hurting anyone,” Stevenson said. “They should be able to talk, they should be able to express their pain.”

This lawsuit was filed on behalf of protesters against the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police department last week. The lawsuit claims protesters’ freedom of speech and assembly were violated by CMPD’s tactics to control the crowd.

“What we are here for, what we continue to protest are again the rights of peaceful protesters to exercise their rights of freedom of speech and expression,” said Micheal Littlejohn, one of the attorneys who is representing the protesters.

The lawsuit specifically talks about an incident on June 2 when protesters say they were peacefully marching down 4th Street in uptown Charlotte.

The protesters said they were trapped between two lines of riot police firing tear gas and pepper bullets with no way to escape.

The State Bureau of Investigation reviewed the incident and said in its report that protesters had two avenues of exit where police weren't blocking them.

[SBI concludes independent review into CMPD tactics during Charlotte protests]

“The public’s rights, are necessary. People’s rights to protest are necessary. The public needs to know what her order states and that’s why we’re here today,” said Littlejohn.

Friday’s hearing clarified the temporary restraining order, which says police can use crowd control measures if there’s a risk to someone’s life during a protest or if there is any property damage and police aren’t able to single out the person responsible.

However, before those can be used, police must make sure exits are available to protesters and there must be sufficient warning before they’re used.

“We’re not talking about property damage or anything like that. We want to make sure the public knows they can do so, and if they do so peacefully, that’s within the scope of what the law says,” said Littlejohn.

Attorney’s for CMPD and the City of Charlotte decided not to comment on this pending litigation. CMPD also said they wouldn’t comment on the litigation in previous statements.

The next step in the process is a preliminary injunction hearing but there isn’t a court date set for that. The judge extended this temporary order until a hearing can be scheduled.

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