Secret Service Sued by Beaten Congolese Man

     WASHINGTON (CN) – While Congolese president Joseph Kabila Kabange had an activist “kicked, choked and stomped on” outside a hotel, D.C. police and the U.S. Secret Service looked on, the activist claims in Federal Court.
     Jacques Dieudonne Itonga Miango says filed the Aug. 6 complaint one year to the day of a protest he organized with two students outside of the Capella Georgetown Hotel.
     Joseph Kabila Kabange, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, had allegedly been staying at the hotel for the U.S.- Africa Leaders Summit.
     Calling himself a Congolese refugee living in Maryland and vocal opponent of Kabange’s government, Miango says he and the student protester spotted Jeanmarie Kassamba, a press official for Kabange, arriving at the hotel shortly after they arrived.
     The protesters then hoisted up their signs while shouting their message “condemning rape, corruption, genocide, dictatorship and human rights violations in the DRC,” according to the complaint.
     They allegedly continued the peaceful protest after Kassamba reached the hotel, with U.S. Secret Service looking on.
     Soon after entering the hotel, Kassamba exited with a group of Congolese officials and began threatening the protestors, Miango says.
     Kabange allegedly arrived with his entourage next.
     Miango says he called to the president by name and continued shouting his protest. Kabange made eye contact with Miango as he entered, and then a second group of Congolese officials rushed out of the hotel, according to the complaint.
     “They then all began physically attacking the protest and Mr. Miango,” the complaint states. They overpowered Mr. Miango as Mr. Miango ordered the student protestor to run for his life. Mr. Miango was then knocked down to the ground, beaten, kicked, choked, and stomped.”
     Miango’s attorney George Rose of Baltimore said they believe Kabange ordered the attack.
     Officers from the Washington Metropolitan Police Department and members of the U.S. Secret Service watched the attack outside the hotel but did nothing to stop it or arrest the assailants according to the complaint.
     A video shows one official walk up to Miango, who is huddled on the ground, and kick him in the head. A police officer then ushers the official away as Miango lies on the ground, arms outstretched.
     Rose said the Metropolitan Police department is currently investigating the assault and the officer whom the video caught ushering the official away.
     Miango met with the department shortly after the protest, Rose said.
     Andre Paul Ngoma, who worked at a hotel across the street and came outside when he heard the protest, joined Miango as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
     The Congolese officials then rushed toward Ngoma.
     When “Ngoma refused to leave and denied that he was a part of the protest, they brutally attacked and savagely beat Mr. Ngoma,” the complaint states.
     The complaint notes that Ngoma was mistaken for a protester because he is black and African.
     In addition to Kabange, the complaint names as defendants the Democratic Republic of the Congo, its embassy, the U.S. Secret Service, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and Capella Hotels Group.
     Each member of Kabange’s delegation who stayed at the hotel is also named as a defendant.
     “As a matter of prudence we don’t want to miss anyone who was part of the attacking group,” Rose said.
     Though the State Department will likely grant Kabange immunity under the Foreign Sovereignty Immunities Act, those who were part of the group that attacked Miango, while eligible for the same protection, likely won’t receive it, Rose said.
     “It would be an embarrassment for the government of the United States of America to seek immunity for people who were clearly doing something illegal,” Rose said.
     The defendants had not been served before publication and the Metropolitan Police Department and the company that operates the Capella hotel did not respond to a request for comment on the suit.
     A representative for the U.S. Secret Service could not be reached for comment.
     Miango seeks punitive damages for battery, assault, civil rights violations and other claims.

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