Aug 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Seven Capitol Police officers sue Trump over Jan. 6 riot

Former President Trump during a rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6.
Former President Trump during a rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Seven Capitol Police officers filed a lawsuit against former President Trump, several of his associates and extremist group leaders on Thursday, alleging they organized a plot to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power that culminated into the violent Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Why it matters: The suit argues that Trump and the other defendants violated the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, which in part prohibited conspiracies to overthrow the federal government.

  • The law prevents authorities from depriving a person of their constitutional rights, and the lawsuit alleges that Trump and his co-defendants violated this section of the law by attempting to overturn election results in cities and states with significant Black populations through false claims of election fraud.
  • The seven officers, five of whom are Black, contend that the defendants violated the D.C. Bias-Related Crimes Act of 1989 by committing criminal acts while motivated by political affiliation bias.
  • The lawsuit also implicates the Trump Campaign, the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and Trump associates, like Roger Stone.

What they're saying: “This is probably the most comprehensive account of Jan. 6 in terms of civil cases,” Edward Caspar, a lawyer who is leading the suit for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told the New York Times. “It spans from the former president to militants around him to his campaign supporters.”

  • "Because of Defendants’ unlawful actions, Plaintiffs were violently assaulted, spat on, tear-gassed, bear-sprayed, subjected to racial slurs and epithets, and put in fear for their lives," the lawsuit reads.
  • "Plaintiffs’ injuries, which Defendants caused, persist to this day," it continues.
  • It claims that Trump knew "that the lives of members of Congress, police officers, and others were in jeopardy" during the riot and "ignored repeated requests to call off the attackers."

The big picture: The lawsuit is so far the largest civil effort to hold Trump and his associates accountable for the riot.

  • The officers are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, the amounts of which would be determined by a jury at trial.
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