The City of Lincoln Will Pay An Injured BLM Protester $497,500 In Damages

April 26, 2022, 5:30 p.m. ·

Woman sitting on the pavement
Elise Poole had to take emergency reconstructive surgery after she was injured from the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. (Photo Courtesy of ACLU of Nebraska)

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The city of Lincoln agreed on a settlement to pay $497,500 in damages to a protester who was injured in the Black Lives Matter protest in May 2020.

Then 18-year-old Elise Poole was empowered to make a positive change in her community at the protests, she said. Then, the activist said, they were confronted by Lincoln officers in riot gear. She was going to help someone who was tear gassed but ended up getting struck in the face with a bean bag. Using her tongue, she checked to see if she still had teeth. Still there. Then she tried to touch her face, and her nose was hanging over her mouth.

"I walked into it [the protests] with my head held high, and I was very excited," she said. "And then, leaving that whole situation, I think, my tail was in between my legs. I was just completely broken down afterward, if I'm being honest."

Poole filed a lawsuit with the help of Daniel Gutman, a contract attorney for the ACLU of Nebraska. The lawsuit alleges that " that untrained law enforcement officers used excessive force by indiscriminately shooting impact munitions at peaceful demonstrators." The City of Lincoln agreed to pay damages but specified that the agreement does not serve as a legal admission of wrongdoing.

“We do not know what caused Ms. Poole’s injury,” City Attorney Yohance Christie told the Lincoln-Journal Star in an article. “Gasoline, fireworks and other dangerous objects were thrown at our Lincoln police officers repeatedly. Just like we do not know who threw these dangerous objects at our Lincoln police officers, we do not know who or what caused Ms. Poole’s injury.”

Gutman said they're happy the case ended in a fair agreement for Poole.

"We are cognizant of the fact though, that the settlement comes after a truly horrific event, and so we're not celebrating that," he said. "We're cognizant of the fact that these kinds of occurrences happen all too often. And that's why we're here to hold people to account for those kinds of actions."

Poole's case is the ACLU of Nebraska's second successful protest rights case in two years.

Poole still can’t breathe through her nose very well. She said it still hurts. She has to go through at least two more surgeries.

"I really care about the Black Lives Matter movement, and I really care about being compassionate, and caring for one another," she said. "I just think it's really important that we look after one another and really think about how our actions affect others and to think about others and. That's a a big lesson that I think everyone should take away from my case."

Poole cares about protecting Black lives and calling out police violence, and those messages are still important today, she said.