Activists' Attorney Won't Rule Out Lawsuit Against State Police Following Arrests
Attorneys representing three protesters who were arrested Thursday during the Kentucky Farm Bureau County Ham Breakfast & Auction say they aren’t ruling out suing Kentucky State Police.
Michael Goodwin, an attorney with the ACLU of Kentucky, is representing activists Chris Hartman, Carla Wallace and Sonja DeVries. The three were arrested during a protest against Kentucky Farm Bureau, which the Fairness Campaign says is anti-LGBT and anti-union.
The three were charged with failure to disperse; Hartman, the executive director of the Fairness Campaign, was also charged with disorderly conduct. Each pleaded not guilty in court Friday morning.
On Friday, Goodwin said the protesters were targeted by KSP during the annual event at the Kentucky State Fair. He said he’s focused on fighting charges against his clients, but he said that doesn’t mean he isn’t considering suing KSP for aggressively shutting down and arresting silent protesters.
“If law enforcement violates constitutional rights, then you are able to try to vindicate those rights by filing a civil lawsuit,” he said. “So, that’s certainly a possibility anytime there is a false arrest or malicious prosecution or anything along those lines.”
Kentucky State Police have said the three ignored warnings not to disrupt the event.
Goodwin said police arrested his clients — who stood in silent protest — before giving them time to respond to warnings.
“We think from the evidence that we reviewed that there are probably violations of free speech and unlawful seizures,” Goodwin said.
The Kentucky Farm Bureau did not return messages seeking comment.
Trooper Paul Blanton, a KSP spokesman, said the agency's "actions will be defended" if the activists goes forward with a lawsuit.
“It is an ongoing situation, and certainly we don’t believe our agency is above public scrutiny,” Blanton said.