CHICAGO (CN) – An Illinois mother sued two Chicago police officers, claiming they beat and arrested her without cause at a Donald Trump protest in front of her 13-year-old daughter.
On March 11, 2016, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump planned to hold a campaign rally in the heart of Chicago, a Democratic stronghold.
But the event was cancelled shortly after Trump’s arrival in the city as the number of protesters descending on the rally location threatened to exceed the attendance of Trump supporters.
Chicago authorities estimated that as many as 4,000 of the 8,000-plus who turned up at the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion, and later spilled into the streets of the city, were intent on expressing their opposition to Trump’s candidacy.
As tensions escalated, conflicting factions shouted “Trump, Trump” and “Bernie, Bernie,” the latter evoking the name of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a Democratic candidate for president at the time.
Due to the perceived potential for violence, Trump decided not to appear, and asked his supporters to leave the area peacefully.
The following day, he claimed that organized “thugs” violated his First Amendment right to free speech by forcing him to cancel the rally.
At a news conference, Chicago police said five people had been arrested, and that two police officers suffered non life-threatening injuries.
Kathleen Griffin, one of the people arrested at the rally, says in a lawsuit filed Saturday in Chicago federal court that it was “one of the worst days of Kate and her daughter’s life.”
Griffin, 45, says she had never attended a political protest before, but wanted to give her 13-year-old daughter Scout a civics lesson.
She described the crowd as peaceful and diverse.
“No one looked like the next person, everyone came from different walks of life -- there were old people and young people, people of all races and ethnicities, there were hippies on bikes and people wearing suits,” the complaint states.
But when Griffin and her daughter tried to leave the protest, the crowd pushed them up against the line of police officers, and Officer Chris Marzano rammed Scout with his baton to push her back.
Griffin shouted at the officer, “Don’t hit my daughter,” and Marzano allegedly retaliated by grabbing her by the hair, throwing her to the ground, and beating her so badly she required stitches to her scalp.
Officer Mario Mendoza also participated in the beating, according to the complaint, by beating Griffin with his baton and kicking her while she was on the ground.
Griffin ended up “separated from her daughter and scared and alone in a holding cell, after having been severely beaten by Chicago police officers,” the lawsuit states.
After the beating, Marzano handcuffed Griffin and said “something to the effect of ‘that’s what you get you cunt,’” according to the complaint. He also allegedly thanked her because “he hadn’t gotten to hit anyone in a while.”
Griffin says she was terrified not only by the alleged police brutality against her, but because she lost track of her daughter in the resulting chaos.
The police filed misdemeanor charges against her, claiming Griffin punched an officer, but the charges were dismissed the day of trial.
The mother seeks punitive damages for false arrest, excessive force, malicious prosecution, battery and emotional distress. She is represented by Sara Garber with Thedford Garber Law in Chicago.
The city did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment.
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