Black Lives Matter leader DeRay Mckesson filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Fox News and one of its hosts, Judge Jeanine Pirro, for defamation in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Why is Mckesson suing?
Mckesson alleges that while Pirro was on “Fox & Friends” on Sept. 29 discussing a lawsuit filed by a Louisiana cop against Black Lives Matter, the Fox host lied about Mckesson, according to TMZ.
Specificially, Mckesson takes issue with the fact that Pirro directly blamed him for a series of violent protests that happened after a black man, Alton Sterling, was shot dead by Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police in July 2016.
"In this particular case, DeRay Mckesson, the organizer, actually was directing people, was directing the violence,” Pirro said on Fox News. "You've got a police officer who was injured, he was injured at the direction of DeRay Mckesson."
Mckesson believes Pirro’s defamatory comments endangered his safety and hurt his standing as a civil rights leader. He is seeking an unspecified amount of damages and a jury trial, according to the New York Daily News.
“These statements of fact are false, and were either known to be false by Defendant Pirro or were made with reckless disregard for whether they were true,” Mckesson says in his suit.
How do we know the statements are false?
When protests erupted in Baton Rouge following Sterling’s death, Mckesson organized protests there. He, along with more than a hundred others, were arrested during the protests.
The charges against most of them were later dropped. That led the group to file a lawsuit against the city. The suit was later settled.
Then an anonymous police officer filed a lawsuit of his own, alleging that he was injured when a protester threw a rock at his face. That cop said Mckesson was responsible for inciting the violence and named both Mckesson and Black Lives Matter as defendants in his suit.
However, a judge didn’t buy what the cop was selling and dismissed the suit on Sept. 28. The judge said the cop failed to show how Mckesson incited the violence and said Black Lives Matter is a social movement that cannot be sued.
Did Fox News respond to the suit?
A Fox News spokesperson said Pirro’s commentary is protected under the First Amendment and said the network plans to defend itself.
"We informed Mr. Mckesson's counsel that our commentary was fully protected under the First Amendment and the privilege for reports of judicial proceedings,” Fox News said. "We will defend this case vigorously."