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A host of Civil Rights Era veterans, legal scholars and Reconstruction Era historians have filed amicus briefs in Black Lives Matter D.C. v. Trump, in support for holding government officials and law-enforcement accountable for their attack on nonviolent racial justice protesters on June 1 in Lafayette Square. The brief from the Civil Rights Era veterans asserts that the Movement for Black Lives builds upon the legacy of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, and demonstrates the similarities between law enforcement violence against Black Lives Matter protesters law enforcement violence against civil rights protesters in the 1960’s. The Reconstruction Era historians’ brief discuss how the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 was passed to specifically address the sort of government-sanctioned violence against civil rights protesters that was witnessed in this case. The brief from legal scholars addresses how, going all the way back to colonial times, courts have held government officials personally liable for violating fundamental rights. Another brief from human rights experts argues that the Defendants violated international human rights law.

“The civil rights community will do everything we can to ensure justice for those who were standing up to intolerance, and we are thrilled to have the support of so many remarkable Civil Rights leaders and scholars,” said David Brody, an attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “These amicus briefs demonstrate just how important it is to hold the perpetrators of this horrific act accountable. Our government caused physical and mental harm to Americans who were doing nothing less than exercising a constitutional right.”

The signatories of the Civil Rights Era veterans brief includes:

  • Charles Avery Jr., who marched and was arrested in the Birmingham Children’s Crusade in 1963;
  • Mary Frances Berry, former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, co-founder of the Free South Africa Movement;
  • Margaret Burnham, founder of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, and first Black female judge in Massachusetts;
  • Clayborne Carson, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute;
  • Hazel Dukes, president emerita of the NAACP;
  • Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund, and the first Black woman admitted to the Mississippi bar;
  • Wade Henderson, president emeritus of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
  • Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association;
  • Benjamin Jealous, president of People for the American Way, president emeritus of the NAACP;
  • Martin Luther King III, president emeritus of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference;
  • Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, former Mayor of New Orleans;
  • Richard Morrisroe, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee activist shot by an Alabama volunteer sheriff’s deputy in 1965; and
  • Ruby Sales, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee activist shot at by an Alabama volunteer sheriff’s deputy in 1965.

Last week, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under law, filed an opposition to defendants’ motion to dismiss in Black Lives Matter D.C. v. Trump. On June 1, federal and local law enforcement, under the direction of Attorney General William Barr, violently attacked peaceful racial justice protesters with clubs and shields, shot them with rubber bullets, knocked them to the ground, and tear-gassed them.

Read the brief from Civil Rights Era veterans here.

Read the brief from Reconstruction Era historians here.

Read the brief from the legal scholars here.

Read the brief from the human rights experts here.


About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes.  For more information, please visit