Assistant U.S. Attorney Marina Utgoff Braswell failed on Dec. 7 in her bid to have that first lawsuit dismissed, but it languishes in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on a technicality: In May, Lash’s attorney did not properly serve Lemke and Reid with notice that they were being sued.
Lash describes himself on his Facebook page as Occupy DC’s “General of Fun Committee.” Also on his Facebook profile, he claimed on Christmas Day that he has “been deemed a domestic terrorist by Homeland Security” under the National Defense Authorization Act.
His latest lawsuit names the federal government as the sole defendant.
McPherson Square was the site of a three-month-long tent encampment by protesters demanding higher taxes for wealthy Americans, tighter regulatory control of Wall Street banks, more jobs for the unemployed and the banishment of corporate money from political campaigns.
On Jan. 29, Park Police posted notices in the loosely organized tent city, announcing that the National Park Service, which manages public spaces in the nation’s capitol, would begin enforcing a long-time rule against overnight camping the following day. (RELATED: Park Service decides to enforce regulations, evict occupiers)
“[I]ndividual violators may be subject to arrest and their property subject to seizure as evidence,” the notices read.
Lash, described in news reports as an unemployed landscaper, concedes in his own lawsuit that he behaved in a way that provoked the police, chanting “fuck your notices” while removing the leaflets from tents in the square. He claims he stopped tearing down the flyers after Lemke warned him that he would face arrest for disorderly conduct.
“As Plaintiff [Lash] was walking away,” Lash concedes, “he said to a group of Park Police officers, ‘You want us to clean up the trash in the park, right? Well here’s your fucking trash you fucking pigs.’” (RELATED VIDEO – Former union boss at Occupy event: Our goal is to “overthrow the capitalist system and build communism”)
Lemke, Reid and two other Park Police officers, he says, then approached him and arrested him on a disorderly conduct charge.
In a Facebook posting in March, Lash wrote that those charges were dismissed.
Lash also claims officers grabbed him from behind without warning, and didn’t identify themselves as police before restraining him. But the YouTube videos show Lash surrounded by police in uniform.
In an affidavit, Sgt. Reid wrote that he saw Lash c0ntinuing to tear down the Park Service notices after he was warned not to. “Mr. Lash refused to cooperate” with the arrest,” Reid added, “and swung his arms in a violent manner, shoving the officers, and attempting to walk away from them despite repeated verbal commands to stand still.”
Park Police “used a taser on Mr. Lash only once,” Reid wrote, noting that “Tasers can be used when a subject resists arrest and the Officer believes that the subject’s actions pose a potential threat.”
In the federal government’s ultimately unsuccessful dismissal motion responding to Lash’s first lawsuit, Braswell wrote that Lash ”is physically bigger than two of the three officers trying to arrest him,” and that he “continued to actively resist even after an officer grabbed him from behind … The officers tried to wrestle plaintiff to the ground by knocking his foot out from under him, but he continued to actively resist.”