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Justices Limit Right to Organize Mass Protests In 3 Southern States

The Supreme Court said on Monday that it would not hear Mckesson v. Doe, leaving in place a lower court decision that effectively eliminated the right to organize a mass protest in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, reports Vox. A protest organizer faces potentially ruinous financial consequences if a single attendee at a mass protest commits an illegal act under the parameters of the decision in much of the South.


DeRay Mckesson helped organize the Baton Rouge Black Lives Matter protest after the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling. During that protest, an unknown individual threw a rock or similar object at a police officer, the plaintiff in Mckesson who is identified only as “Officer John Doe.” The officer was struck in the face and, according to one court, suffered “injuries to his teeth, jaw, brain, and head.” The Supreme Court held in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware in 1982 that protest leaders cannot be held liable for the violent actions of a protest participant. Now, with the decision to not hear Mckesson, if protest organizers can be sanctioned for the illegal action of any protest attendee, it would discourage people from organizing protests in the first place. Fifth Circuit Judge Don Willett, who dissented from his court’s Mckesson decision, warned that it would make protest organizers liable for “the unlawful acts of counter-protesters and agitators.”

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