Dig Baton Rouge

Judge: You can’t sue a hashtag, or Black Lives Matter

A federal judge ruled that a police officer cannot sue the Black Lives Matter movement for injuries he sustained during protests in Baton Rouge after Alton Sterling was shot to death by police.

U. S. District Judge Brian Jackson said the anonymous officer, who named the movement and activist Deroy McKesson in his suit, could not sue a hashtag.

“‘Black Lives Matter’ is not itself is not an entity of any sort,” Jackson wrote in his 24-page opinion. “Plaintiff therefore is attempting to sue a hashtag for damages in tort. For reasons that should be obvious, a hashtag… lacks the capacity to be sued.”

The judge also said the officer’s own claims show McKesson, who was not accused of causing the officer’s injuries, “solely engaged in protected free speech” during the protests.

McKesson was among the roughly 200 protestors arrested during the protests last summer, and accused of obstructing a highway. District Attorney Hillar Moore declined to prosecute McKesson and about half of those protestors with the same charges.


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