Photographers file lawsuit related to 2020 Wisconsin anti-racism protests


By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Two freelance photographers have sued Wisconsin’s Kenosha County, alleging their civil rights were violated by law enforcement when they were shot with rubber bullets in a 2020 anti-racism protest after the police shooting of a Black man.

Alyssa Schukar and Scott Olson had been assigned to cover those protests in Kenosha for the New York Times and Getty Images, respectively, after the shooting of Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down.

The protests lasted several days. In one of them, a young man named Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot two men. A jury acquitted Rittenhouse of murder in late 2021 after his defense that he had shot the men in fear for his life and had been repeatedly attacked.

Protests against racism and police brutality had spread across the United States and in some cases got violent that year following the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man killed after a police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes in Minneapolis three months before the Kenosha demonstrations.

Both photographers were injured in August 2020, when they were shot with rubber bullets. The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin mentioned Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, former Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis and other police officers as defendants.

The photographers are seeking punitive damages and legal fees while accusing the local government of having failed to train and supervise the law enforcement officials. They also alleged that their constitutional rights to free speech and due process were violated.

“This excessive force and unconstitutional constraint on Plaintiffs’ civil and constitutional rights resulted in physical injuries and emotional distress,” they said in their lawsuit filed earlier this week.

An attorney representing Kenosha County said the county disagreed with the assertions made in the lawsuit and would “defend itself resolutely.”

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Jamie Freed)

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