KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville activist who was arrested by officers in January 2022 after a city meeting is now suing over the arrest.

David Alexander Hayes, now known as Nzinga Bayano Amani, an activist and former city council candidate, has filed a lawsuit asserting their rights were violated by an unlawful arrest for engaging in protected speech and without probable cause, being arrested to prevent future speech and conduct, excessive and unreasonable force by officers and unlawful conspiracy.

In January 2022, Amani was seen on video being carried out in handcuffs by officers after leaving a “listening session.” Amani was in the assembly room with several activism groups to provide input about the selection of the new police chief.

“Put simply, I’m moving forward with this lawsuit because no one deserves the treatment I’ve received from the City of Knoxville, Knoxville Police Department, Knox County Sheriff’s Office and Knox County Government,” Amani posted on Facebook.

In the lawsuit, when attempting to meet a possible candidate for the new police chief position, Amani claims to have been dragged, beat and punched by officers.

It was later found that Amani was arrested for an outstanding warrant for obstructing a highway or other passageway in April 2021. However, the incident sparked controversy because Amani claimed to have never been informed about the arrest warrant.

Amani was also charged with inciting a riot and assault of a first responder, according to the 2022 arrest report. However, the inciting riot charge has been dismissed.

The officers named in the lawsuit were Lieutenant Jeff Pappas, Knoxville Police Officer Christopher Starr, Knox County Sheriff’s Deputy Ronald Chaperon Jr., Knox County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Coffey and Knox County Sheriff’s Deputy David Cunningham. Amani will also sue the city and the county for the incident.

The struggle to win this lawsuit is not about getting me paid, it’s about sparking more change that benefits all of us. I could care less about receiving any $, but you better believe I have plenty of ideas about who and what could use some governmental funds and will gladly distribute any $$ I receive among them.

While this legal strategy is different from that of most grassroot campaigns I’ve done in the past, the goals of empowering our people and causing systemic change within our government and policing remains the same.

My criminal case resulting from the same arrest is currently in grand jury. Once it’s out of grand jury, I’ll have my receive my trial date and will update y’all.

I look forward to another year of organizing to win city council elections and democratize local government, build independent political organization across the state, lower our utility bills, expanding our harm reduction and mutual aid networks, fighting fascism, and ultimately advance the struggle towards the socialist society that our communities deserve.

Our ancestors have taught us that freedom, democracy, and justice will never be given to the masses. It’s up to us to unite and struggle to win those worthy goals, not only for our sake, but for the sake of generations to come.

Nzinga Bayano Amani, Facebook post.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office could not provide camera footage of the 2022 arrest because the body cameras were not worn due to the officers being in court.