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Thousands march in Washington, D.C. protesting police brutality and the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota at the hands of local police, on Saturday, June 6, 2020. Derek Chauvin, the police officer that was caught on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes as the unarmed, handcuffed man laid flat and unable to breathe, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Mass demonstrations have taken place nationwide since the incident took place. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM Thousands march in Washington, D.C., protesting police brutality and the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota at the hands of local police, on June 6, 2020. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

In her almost four decades of bringing civil rights lawsuits targeting police abuse and misconduct, Detroit-based lawyer Julie Hurwitz said she had never seen the “level of gratuitous violence and acts of aggression toward peaceful protestors” by police that she witnessed in Detroit last summer.

As residents backing the Black Lives Matter movement, sparked by the killing of George Floyd, protested daily against what they said was a long history of police abuse in their city and nationwide, the police, according to Hurwitz, struck them with pepper spray, rubber bullets, beatings, sound canons, flash grenades, random mass arrests and, in at least one instance, a violent chokehold takedown of a protestor.

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