A federal judge in Detroit has ordered the city’s police not to use batons, tear gas, shields, chokeholds, rubber bullets, sound cannons, or any other type of non-lethal force against protesters for the next two weeks.
The late Friday ruling granted a temporary restraining order to the activist group Detroit Will Breathe, which sued the city on Monday, claiming that excessive police force infringed upon their protesters’ First Amendment rights, the Detroit Free Press reported.
U.S. District Court Judge Laurie Michelson’s order stops police from using any type of force during protests without “probable cause.”
“For a short period, we know that the police will not be able to use the brutal tactics they have in the past against peaceful protesters without violating a court order,” said Jack Schulz, who filed the order on behalf of the group.
But Detroit Police Chief James Craig said the police have not used force against peaceful protesters.
“We’re going to continue to do our jobs the way we’ve done it,” he said. “We respect peaceful protesters. We understand the judge’s order and we’ll make sure the protesters understand if there’s any aggression or violation of law, they will get ample notice like we’ve done in the past.”
The lawsuit claimed that some of the officers’ use of force had left some protesters hospitalized.
The department is investigating about two dozen complaints against police officers, including one about a police officer who allegedly hit three photojournalists with rubber bullets and was charged with felony assault, the Detroit News reported.
Officers are also banned from tying zip ties to the point of causing injury or arresting lots of protesters without probable cause.
The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners on Wednesday passed guidelines that prohibit officers from using chokeholds and requires the board to intervene if another officer uses excessive force.
Craig, however, claimed that the police had not used chokeholds against protesters.
“If someone is resisting arrest, or trying to attack our officers, we will use the force that’s both reasonable and necessary to overcome the resistance,” he told the Detroit News. “We don’t want the protesters injured, and we don’t want officers injured, either.”