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ACLU files lawsuits against gag orders

Dominique Maria Bonessi

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland announced today it has filed two separate suits to overturn gag orders contained in settlements in police brutality cases.

The suits against Baltimore City and its police department and Salisbury and its police department were filed in federal court and in Baltimore Circuit court.

Susan Goering, ACLU Maryland’s executive director, says settlements that impose gag orders on plaintiffs violate their rights.

 "The two separate lawsuits challenge these practices as unconstitutional violation of the 1st amendment and second that is illegal under Maryland’s public transparency law," said Goering at a press conference.

Ashley Overbey, who settled a police brutality case with Baltimore, was denied half of her award after responding to comment online about her experience with police.

"I told my lawyer, I want badges on the table," said 25-year-old Overbey. "He told me I was being unrealistic, but at the end of the day I don’t think so. I don’t think officers like this should be on the streets."

Reporters from the Baltimore Brew and The Real News Network, are also plantiffs in the suit against Baltimore city. They argued the gag orders deny their First Amendment rights to obtain information from victims of alleged police abuse.

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