A judge has refused to toss out a federal lawsuit against the city of San Jose, California, in which the city police are accused of allowing an angry mob of left-wing agitators and violent protesters to target peaceful pro-Trump ralliers.
Several people were injured during the June 2 rally. A picture of a pro-Trump woman being pelted by eggs during the incident went viral last spring.
“Citizens ranging from their teens to their 70s were assaulted, abused, chased, hunted, and terrorized in a situation for which the city is responsible.”
The city was sued by attorney Harmeet Dhillon, in a pro bono case, representing some of the victims. Dhillon, the national committeewoman of the California Republican Party and a contender to lead the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, also attended the rally.
“Citizens ranging from their teens to their 70s were assaulted, abused, chased, hunted, and terrorized in a situation for which the city is responsible, and must now answer,” Dhillon told LifeZette. “This lawsuit seeks to vindicate the principle that every American — regardless of his or her political beliefs — is entitled to equal protection of the laws, and to the rights of free speech and free assembly, particularly in the support of their candidate of choice.”
The unfortunate series of events happened just weeks after Republican businessman Donald Trump had sewn up the GOP presidential nomination in May 2016. The Trump supporters were leaving the San Jose rally, exiting the convention center on June 2.
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Police had lined up and guided the attendees along various pathways outside.
But as the pro-Trump attendees turned one final corner, they were led straight into what was described as an anti-Trump riot.
Some people took shelter in nearby buildings. But it was too late, according to people at the event.
“It felt like we were the lamb being led to the slaughterhouse,” said Juan Hernandez, a Trump supporter who suffered a broken nose, speaking to The Mercury News. “I went down into a fetal position and the punches were coming in at every angle. The officers weren’t doing anything as the attacks were happening. This should not happen anywhere — no matter who you support, Democrat or Republican — this should not happen.”
In July, the first federal civil rights complaint was filed. Dhillon’s law firm has been battling motions from the city to dismiss the case since then. Some state civil rights claims were dismissed, but the lion’s share of the complaint — the federal civil rights claim — remains in the case, as does the claim for negligence against the city. A judge refused to throw those claims out in a decision Wednesday.
Dhillon, a candidate to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is a Sikh-American who was born in India. Her experiences witnessing hate crimes against Sikhs led her to believe that if civil rights laws are on the books, conservatives and Republicans must use them in court if they encounter violence and suppression of their constitutional rights.
“San Jose has had two opportunities to dismiss this case, and now must defend the indefensible: its 250-plus police officers’ utter inaction in the face of a violent mob riot they forced Trump supporters to walk through,” Dhillon told LifeZette Friday. “San Jose violated these constitutional rights and the public trust, and we hope to make sure, through this civil rights case, that this travesty is never repeated.”
Dhillon’s law firm has amassed huge bills in suing the city of San Jose, and the plaintiffs have set up a GoFundMe page to keep the case going.
The San Jose city attorney blames President Trump for lingering after the rally and meeting with VIPs.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Trump hung around after the event to meet with the VIPs,” said Rick Doyle, San Jose city attorney, speaking to The Mercury News. “And the Secret Service wouldn’t allow anyone in that area. I think we’ll sort that out in deposition.”