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Las Vegas police sued by black hotel guests after birthday party arrests

Las Vegas police and the Rio Hotel & Casino are being sued by a group of black partygoers who claim officers stormed into their hotel room, arrested multiple people and then publicized it as a ‘gang party’. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada filed the lawsuit on Monday on behalf of 11 of the 34 people who were at the hotel room party at the Rio Hotel & Casino back in August 2018. 

The ACLU said that all 34 people who attended the party were black and has claimed that the conduct of police and hotel staff that night violated their constitutional rights.

According to the complaint, two people had booked a room at the hotel to host a birthday party for the 34 guests.

Hotel staff, who knew about the party plans, had spoken to guests prior about the hotel’s noise policies, the court documents say. 

The lawsuit says that Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, accompanied by hotel staff, ‘stormed into the suite’ at about 2am.  

All 34 guests were allegedly searched, handcuffed and forced to sit in the hotel hallway for up to six hours with no access to water, food or a restroom.

At least nine people were eventually taken into custody.  

Despite none of the guests being arrested for criminal gang activity, the ACLU says police posted on social media at the time that they had broken up a ‘large gang party’ where ‘over a dozen documented gang members were arrested’.

In Twitter post from the time, officers said five firearms had been recovered at the scene. 

The mugshots of those nine partygoers were also released by police at the time. 

The ACLU said the despite the police department claiming the birthday party was a ‘gang party’, none of the guests who were arrested were taken into custody for criminal gang activity. 

Ashley Medlock, one of the women who was arrested that night and is a plaintiff in the case, said in a statement put out by ACLU: ‘The Rio knew we were having a birthday party when the room was booked. But instead of having a good time we were treated like criminals and harassed by the police and the hotel.

‘Since when is it a crime to be black and go to a birthday?’ 

The ACLU said officers carried out pat-downs and record checks ‘indiscriminately’ without any suspicious that any of the 34 guests had engaged, or would have engaged, in criminal activity. 

ACLU of Nevada staff attorney Nikki Levy said Las Vegas police and the Rio hotel violated her clients rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

‘We filed this case to confront police policies that allow officers to conduct these kinds of indiscriminate and pretextual searches, and we want to make it clear that it is unacceptable to label an entire gathering as a ‘gang party’ just because the party guests are black.’ 

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