Free Speech

ACLU Ohio Lawsuit Leads to New Mass Arrest Rules in Cleveland


A lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Ohio on behalf of four protestors has led to new “mass arrest” rules in Cleveland, requiring police to “put a time-stamped sticker on anyone arrested, then take them to a processing center.”

The ACLU lawsuit was filed against the City of Cleveland over delays in processing those arrested on May 23, 2015, in the wake of the acquittal of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo. The lawsuit challenged the “ground rules employed by the police for public demonstrations and defined new ones to guide protesters and police during demonstrations being planned for the weeks and months ahead.” The suit said police took many of the more than 70 arrested demonstrators to a hangar at Burke Lakefront Airport for a couple hours, and then to jail for more than a day (for many up to 36 hours). The suit charged the city deliberately delayed bringing the arrested protesters before a judge to keep them from returning to the streets and exercising their First Amendment rights of speech and assembly.

A federal judge ordered the city in July to create the new mass arrest procedure, which was signed on August 6 by Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams.