Marlowe Jones, the activist and father of three acquitted of all wrongdoing during a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest, filed a $2 million federal civil rights lawsuit against the Florida city of New Port Richey, its police department, and multiple government and police officials, for wrongfully arresting and charging him in July 2020.
Jones’ complaint raises allegations against the city for pervasive wrongdoing that ranges from brutality to racism and antisemitism to sexual misconduct — and even to mistreating arrestees such that one woman was forced to defecate on herself while in police custody.
The complaint alleges:
“…due to the brutal, unlawful, and unconstitutional way [New Port Richie] has treated individuals of color, individuals who are of faiths other than conservative Christians, such as those of Jewish faith, and others in the community who do not look or think like the politicians and individuals that govern the city.”
Jones was prosecuted for battery on a law enforcement officer during a protest in the summer of 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, but he was acquitted of all wrongdoing after a two-day trial.
Jones is a community leader and Black Lives Matter activist. In his 43-page complaint filed in federal court in Florida, Jones railed against New Port Richey for what he says is “a long history of contention between its government officials and/or agents and residents of the City, especially residents that are minorities or residents that speak out against injustices.”
Jones alleged that the city has been repeatedly sued for its “brutal, unlawful, and unconstitutional way [of treating] individuals of color, individuals who are of faiths other than conservative Christians (such as those of Jewish faith), and others in the community who do not look or think like the politicians and individuals that govern the City.”
In an attempt to support those general allegations, Jones claimed that New Port Richey cops commingled with the Proud Boys and espoused white supremacist ideologies. The complaint even included a photo of one officer (shown below), Elizabeth Dennison, posing in front of a Confederate flag.
Jones also included images of text message exchanges sent by now-fired New Port Richey police officer Corey Oliver, claiming those messages show that Oliver purposely leaked sensitive police information about Black Lives Matter protests to right-wing extremists who “are often armed and looking for an excuse to harm” demonstrators.
The complaint also took particular aim at New Port Richey’s top officials. Jones claimed that former New Port Richey Police Chief Kim Bogart “received so much criticism for supporting and defending the racist and unlawful behavior of the men and women that serve under his command, that he was forced to retire.”
According to the filing, the city’s mayor, Robert Marlowe, publicly defended many officers, including one who broke into a Jewish woman’s home under the guise of code enforcement issues and made jokes about Holocaust victim Anne Frank — while another police officer stood by and laughed. Jones went on to allege that later, when the same Jewish woman spoke up at a public meeting, Marlowe responded with a “tirade” and brushed off her comments as “garbage.”
Jones asserted that Bogart maintained that the officers, whose behavior was captured on body camera footage, engaged in “routine police business” and had not been antisemitic or discriminatory.
The defendants did not respond to a request for comment. Then-Chief Bogart reportedly defended Dennison back in December (Dennison isn’t a named defendant, but her name is mentioned in the filing). He also said that officers didn’t know who the Proud Boys were when they were recorded praying with the group in September 2020.
“We didn’t even know who the Proud Boys were, Oathkeepers and some of those other groups that have come to the forefront,” Bogart said, according to the “alternative newsweekly” Creative Loafing: Tampa Bay. “They were not in our town enough to where we knew who they were and dealt with them.”
The complaint alleged several other kinds of misdeeds by New Port Richey officers, including unchecked sexual misconduct against a minor, kneeling on the neck of an African American boy in the same manner that led to the death of George Floyd, and the prevention of an African American woman to use the restroom while she was in a holding cell. Per the complaint, the supervising officer “failed to make the required visual checks every 10 minutes,” and “Consequently, [Shinikki] Whiting was unable to properly use the restroom and was forced to defecate on herself.”
As for the allegations relating to Jones himself, the complaint described an incident on July 24, 2020, during which a white male officer “lunged at” and ultimately punched a female activist during a peaceful BLM demonstration. Jones claimed he “rushed over to assess and deescalate the situation,” and that although he never touched or approached the officer, he was arrested and charged with battery on a police officer and obstruction of justice.
The complaint also described the dramatic scene of Jones’s arrest: While the activist was at the local police station filing a missing person’s report for the same female Black Lives Matter protester, he was surrounded by 30 cops and “aggressively” handcuffed while his arms were twisted painfully.
Jones’s civil complaint brought federal claims under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and asserted that he was deprived of his First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Jones also raised claims for failure to train, false arrest, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and battery.
Kevin Ross, one of the attorneys representing Jones, said in a statement that his client’s wrongful arrest caused his client to suffer “substantial harm.”
“Our goal is to seek justice for Mr. Jones and ensure that he receives the compensation he deserves,” the attorney said.
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