The NAACP and civil rights law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll filed a federal lawsuit against former President Donald J. Trump using the Ku Klux Klan Act. Also included in the lawsuit are Rudy Giuliani and far-right extremist groups the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. They are being sued for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot. The suit was filed on behalf of Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District Rep. Bennie Thompson.
WHAT IS THE KU KLUX KLAN ACT?
The suit alleges that Trump and Giuliani violated the Ku Klux Klan Act. This 1871 law prohibits interference with lawmakers’ constitutional duties. Intended to protect Congress members in the South during Reconstruction, the statute protects against conspiracies in response to Klux Klux Klan violence and intimidation.
Filed in Washington D.C, the lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Attorney Joseph Sellers, who is representing Thompson, said that the statute’s specific purpose was to provide a remedy against efforts to interfere with Congress’ duties.
“The fact that there’s very little precedent involving this section of the statute is a reflection of how extraordinary the events were that gives rise to this lawsuit,”-Attorney Joseph Sellers
The lawsuit links the insurrection at the Capitol directly to Trump’s rally earlier in the day. At his rally, Trump told his supporters, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Giuliani also fired up the crowd saying, “Let’s have trial by combat.”
REP. DETAILS HIS EXPERIENCE DURING INSURRECTION
In the lawsuit, Bennie Thompson said he was forced to wear a gas mask and hide on the floor of the House gallery. He goes on to say that he waited for three hours while hearing threats of violence toward Congress members who attempt to proceed with the Election College ballot count. According to the suit, Mr. Thompson also heard a gunshot. Thompson later learned the gunshot killed one of the rioters.
More than a dozen Proud Boys have been charged for the Capitol insurrection. The Department of Justice also brought conspiracy charges against five people associated with the group. Also indited are members of the Oath Keepers. Members of these groups stated they followed directions from Trump.
If the civil suit proceeds, Trump, and others would be subject to discovery and depositions. The civil suit would make previously unavailable evidence that was not released during the Senate impeachment trial.
Contributing writer LaToya Wright is a writer and creator of thefatgirloffashion.com. Find her on social media @thefatgirloffashion.