Supreme Court Denies Appeal from Black Lives Matter Organizer

On April 15th, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of Deray Mckesson, a Black Lives Matter organizer and activist who led a protest in Louisiana where a police officer was hit by a “rock-like object” and injured. While Mckesson did not throw the rock, he is being sued by the injured police officer because of his role as the protests’ organizer. 

The protest was organized after a Black man named Alton Sterling was killed by two Louisiana police officers, who pinned him to the ground and shot him. The officers were responding to a call that described a man with a gun. The shooting was captured on video and sparked local protests in Baton Rouge, where the shooting took place. 

In the lawsuit, the officer, referred to as John Doe, accuses Mckesson of negligence, arguing that he did not control the crowd and set up a police confrontation when he led protesters onto a highway. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case means that the case will head back to the lower courts “for further proceedings on whether state law allows the lawsuit.” 

In 2017, the District Court of the Middle District of Louisiana dismissed the case citing Mckesson’s First Amendment right. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit reversed the decision and the case made its way up to the Supreme Court. 


If the ruling does stand, an organizer of a protest in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, or Texas could be subject to massive lawsuits. Organizers of protests could be held liable for any illegal actions committed by even a single protestor. 

“The goal of lawsuits like these is to prevent people from showing up at a protest out of the fear that they might be held responsible if anything happens,” said Mckesson, who is being represented by the ACLU in court. He reiterated that people should not feel afraid to protest, as they have the First Amendment right to free speech and assembly: “The Constitution still protects our right to protest.”

The ACLU stated that the Court’s denial of Mckesson’s appeal does not mean that the Fifth Circuit’s ruling should stand and that they will keep fighting to make sure that the decision “does not govern anywhere.” 

Support eh ERA banner