Civil rights activist DeRay McKesson is suing Fox News and media personality Jeanine Pirro for defamation.
McKesson claims during a September segment on Fox and Friends, Pirro made “false and defamatory statements” regarding a 2016 Black Lives Matter protest following the death of Alton Sterling, that resulted in the arrest of 185 people– McKesson included– and the injury of a police officer. The protest also resulted in a lawsuit against Black Lives Matter that was ultimately dismissed by a district judge.
On the show, Pirro said, “And in this particular case, DeRay McKesson, the organizer, actually was directing people, was directing violence.”
Pirro also made a comment about the judge who dismissed the lawsuit, Louisiana District Judge Brian Jackson, being appointed by President Barack Obama.
After the Sept. 29 show, McKesson asked Fox News for a retraction, but the network refused.
McKesson says this statement was false and told the Baltimore Sun, “Pirro’s statements are untrue and further a narrative that I, and other activists, engage in violent protest.”
The activist said he takes untrue statements about himself seriously because he has received death threats.
A Fox News spokeswoman said Pirro’s statements are protected speech and it has already informed McKesson’s counsel that the commentary was protected under the First Amendment. In a statement, the network said, “We will defend this case vigorously.”
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in New York.
McKesson is the former head of human resources for Baltimore’s public schools and has previously run for mayor in Baltimore. The 32-year-old has been a prominent voice of Black Lives Matter.
Pirro is a district attorney, host of the Fox News show Justice with Judge Jeanine, and serves as a legal analyst for Fox News Channel.