Federal judge: Black Lives Matter is a social movement, can't be sued


Middle District of Louisiana Chief Judge Brian Jackson dismissed the suit against Mckesson and Black Lives Matter.

Addressing Mckesson's role in the protests and subsequent lawsuit, Jackson wrote the activist was exercising "his constitutional right to association and that he exclusively engaged in protected speech at the demonstration that took place in Baton Rouge". He claimed the activists had gathered in Baton Rouge to incite violence against police and that Mckesson was responsible for the actions of the unidentified demonstrator who hurled the rock.

Donna Grodner, an attorney for the officer, didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment late Thursday night.

The lawsuit did not accuse Mckesson of throwing the possible rock, but did claim that he "was in charge of" the protest that "turned into a riot" and he "incited the violence" on behalf of Black Lives Matter. One was Black Lives Matter Network, Inc., a group associated with the movement.

There is another lawsuit pending against Black Lives Matter and several of its leaders, filed by a sheriff's deputy who was wounded by a gunman who killed three other police officers in Baton Rouge last summer.

Mckesson was among almost 200 people who were arrested in protests sparked by Sterling's death. The local district attorney declined to prosecute Mckesson and almost 100 protesters charged with obstructing a highway.

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Mckesson and other protesters have since sued the city of Baton Rouge and local law enforcement officials over their arrests, accusing police of using excessive force and violating their constitutional rights.

"It's organized. They have meetings". "This shows a level of national organization".

However, Billy Gibbens, Mckesson's lawyer argued that the group doesn't have bylaws or a governing body. Surely an individual can be held responsible for his rhetoric, if not the "social movement" he purports to lead. "In a proposed amendment, the officer tried to add "#BlackLivesMatter" to the suit.

In his ruling [opinion, PDF] Jackson said BLM is not an entity and can not be sued. But Black Lives Matter was an exception, he said.

Mckesson rose to prominence as an activist in the BLM movement during protests in Ferguson, Mo., following the August 2014 shooting death of black teen Michael Brown by a white police officer.