The suit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, names Stop the Steal rally organizers and members of far-right extremist groups including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers as “vicariously liable” for the riot, claiming, “Many Defendants in this case planned, aided, and actively participated in that attack. All Defendants are responsible for it.”
The lawsuit continued: “Plaintiffs and their fellow law enforcement officers risked their lives to defend the Capitol from a violent, mass attack — an attack provoked, aided, and joined by Defendants in an unlawful effort to use force, intimidation, and threats to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 Presidential election.”
The plaintiffs also claim that Trump and his allies’ actions directly led to the violence they endured and injuries they sustained during the attack: “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. Plaintiffs’ injuries, which Defendants caused, persist to this day.”
The suit, which was filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on behalf of the officers, alleges that the defendants’ actions violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 law designed to allow the president to combat the KKK and other white supremacist organizations that also protects against those who interfere with Congress’ official duties. This is the fourth lawsuit against the former president connected to the Capitol attack. It is the second filed by members of the Capitol Police. The suit also claims the defendants committed “bias-motivated acts of terrorism,” a violation of D.C. law.
An earlier suit, filed by Capitol Police Officers Officers Sidney Hemby and James Blassingame, claims Trump “inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed, and aided and abetted” the people who carried out the attack and that Blassingame was called a racial slur “throughout the attack.” Hemby and Blassingame are seeking $75,000 in damages.
But there is one major difference with the most recent suit, according to The New York Times. Unlike earlier filings, this suit claims Trump worked “in concert” with far-right extremists to push election lies that led to the attack.
Trump has not yet responded to the newest suit, but in response to a separate suit brought by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), the former president claimed his election fraud claims were protected by the First Amendment. But prominent constitutional lawyers have called it a “spurious and thinly developed” line of defense.
“For months after the 2020 election had been officially called, former President Trump and his associates made coordinated and systematic attempts to lodge their false claims of election fraud, targeted toward major cities with significant populations of voters of color,” Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee, said in a statement. “The lies of this conspiracy intentionally energized white supremacists and violent extremist groups and actively encouraged them to coordinate the violent attack on the Capitol. These actions put our clients in harm’s way to defend the votes and voices the conspiracy was intended to silence.”