NEW ORLEANS—The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana’s Justice Lab announced today it has secured $500,000 for victims of racist policing and their families. Founded in June 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, Justice Lab works to hold law enforcement accountable for violent and racially discriminatory policing practices and police violence against people of color in Louisiana.

“We are extremely proud of the steadfastness and success of the Justice Lab team over the past three years,” said Alanah Odoms, ACLU of Louisiana executive director. “Our work is not finished. We will continue to hold state agencies accountable for police violence and misconduct. All Louisiana residents deserve to feel safe—not targeted—in their encounters with law enforcement.”

Justice Lab recently settled its eleventh lawsuit against defendants in Tapps v. Mcclendon, including the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office which was sued for engaging in a pattern of negligent hiring, retention, and supervision of its officers. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Frances Tapps, a Kenner resident who went into premature labor following an unconstitutional seizure by a JPSO officer at her home. 

“Ms. Tapps has dealt with what no mother or pregnant person should have to deal with,” said Nora Ahmed, ACLU of Louisiana legal director. “While a settlement can never make someone whole, it is a step in the right direction. Pattern or practice claims against police departments are extraordinarily difficult to overcome, particularly in the Fifth Circuit, where we practice law. Developing good case law has long been a key goal of Justice Lab, and we were able to secure that outcome in Ms. Tapps’ case.”

To date, the Justice Lab has secured victories for clients in the following eight parishes: Caddo (Kennedy), DeSoto (Hinson), East Feliciana (Harveston, White),  Jefferson (Decquir, Suggs), Lafourche (Jackson), Orleans (Celestine), Morehouse (Olive), and Tangipahoa (Watkins).