Filed Date: July 16, 2019
Closed Date: March 10, 2020
Clearinghouse coding complete
On July 16, 2019, the Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM) filed this lawsuit in in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. The plaintiffs sued the mayor of Providence, the public safety commissioner of Providence, the chief of police, and the city’s treasurer for violations of municipal code and the Rhode Island Constitution in relation to a racially discriminatory policing project. PrYSM is a youth organization based in Providence’s Southeast Asian community, and it claimed to have been directly affected by this discriminatory policy. Police had long targeted Providence’s substantial Southeast Asian community in their attempts to curb gang violence. However, in 2017, the Providence City Council passed a law called the Community Safety act that forbade the use of “association” as a criteria for gang affiliation. This violative conduct, plaintiffs alleged, contravened basic federal constitutional rights to freedom of speech and association as well as Due Process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiffs, represented by a local community lawyer, sought injunctive and declaratory relief as well as attorneys' fees.
Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that police units continued to enact policies criminalizing activities protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, like free association, in order to assess gang membership. This behavior, plaintiffs alleged, increased the likelihood of unconstitutional seizures in violation of the due process clause. Plaintiffs demanded a jury trial on all counts.
The case was reassigned to Chief Judge William E. Smith after the district judge originally assigned to the case recused himself. On October 17, 2019, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and lack of subject matter jurisdiction. They argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring this suit and that they did not establish supervisory liability on the part of defendant Mayor Elorza. A hearing on the motion was canceled because, after two months of negotiation, the parties entered into a consent decree on March 10, 2020.
Under the consent decree, the city agreed to change its criteria for inclusion in the gang database to no longer allow mere association as sufficient for inclusion. The police department also agreed to not rely on other law enforcement agencies or confidential informants for inclusion in the database if those other entities only used association as a gang identifier.
The city admitted no fault in the consent agreement, but agreed to pay $2,500 in legal costs to PrYSM. The court dismissed the action on March 10, 2020, pursuant to the consent decree. This case is now closed.
Dan Toubman (2/14/2020)
Robin Peterson (5/25/2023)
For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/15922027/parties/providence-youth-student-movement-v-elorza/
Smith, William E. (Rhode Island)
Sullivan, Patricia A. (Rhode Island)
Kurland, Shannah M. (Rhode Island)
Garner, Sharon Marie (Mississippi)
Nelson, Steven B. (Rhode Island)
Last updated June 29, 2023, 3:02 a.m.
State / Territory: Rhode Island
Filing Date: July 16, 2019
Closing Date: March 10, 2020
Case Ongoing: No
Youth group representing Providence Southeast Asian community.
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: No
Class Action Outcome: Not sought
Causes of Action:
Prevailing Party: Plaintiff
Nature of Relief:
Source of Relief:
Form of Settlement:
Amount Defendant Pays: $2500
Content of Injunction: