A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that plaintiffs can move ahead with a lawsuit against the San Jose Police Department, alleging police failed to protect Donald Trump supporters from attackers when attending a June 2016 San Jose Trump campaign rally at the McEnery Convention Center.
According to the lawsuit, which contains 20 plaintiffs seeking damages, some Trump supporters suffered broken noses from punches being thrown at them, while another suffered head trauma when he was hit in the head with a bag of rocks. Others had their glasses broken and hair pulled, and some were harassed when anti-Trump protestors threw eggs. A video of a woman being egged was posted by Fox News after the event.
The suit, however, targets the San Jose Police Department, whom the suit alleges did not intervene.
“Instead of stopping the attacks… several (police) officers and other city personnel, including members of the San Jose Fire Department, refused to respond to pleas for help from several of the Trump supporters,” the suit says. “Several officers told Trump supporters that the police were not permitted to provide assistance to those trying to return to their vehicles and leave the area.”
The lawsuit also claims that police knowingly ordered the Trump rally attenders to leave the convention center through a single exit where protesters were waiting, despite the existence of a safer route.
“No citizen should have to feel that he is risking life and limb to attend a political event, or feel that his or her rights are somehow less important just because they happen to be different than those of the mayor and/or the chief of police,” Harmeet Dhillon, attorney for the plaintiffs said in a statement.
The 3-0 ruling for the plaintiffs by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco states, “The attendees alleged sufficiently that the officers increased the danger to them by shepherding them into a crowd of violent protesters and that the officers acted with deliberate indifference to that danger. The district court therefore correctly denied the officers qualified immunity.”
The ruling will give the plaintiffs a day in court to prove the allegation, which if true, violated the constitutional rights of the Trump supporters.
While sadly it is unsurprising to hear of violent protests in today’s political climate, it is shocking to hear allegations of police cooperation and enhancement of such violence.