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Woman alleges she was sedated during abortion rights protest at Warriors game

SF Gate 8/11/2022 Amy Graff
Facade with sign at Chase Center, the home of the Golden State Warriors NBA basketball team in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco, Dec. 5, 2019.  © Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Facade with sign at Chase Center, the home of the Golden State Warriors NBA basketball team in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco, Dec. 5, 2019. 

An abortion rights activist filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday against the city of San Francisco and its police and fire departments, alleging she was injected with a sedative during a protest at a recent Warriors-Celtics NBA finals game.

On June 13, Kareim McKnight and her friend Amanda Piasecki walked down to the floor of Chase Center during the game's first quarter, with banners reading, “Overturn Roe? Hell No!” to protest the Supreme Court’s expected decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, said the lawsuit, filed by civil rights attorney John Burris in the U.S. District Court for Northern California.

As McKnight and her friend chanted, “Abortion on demand and without apology,” near seats on the floor, they were “forcibly dragged” out of the arena into the stadium garage, where McKnight was thrown to the ground and handcuffed, the complaint said. A security guard reportedly held his knee on her back, according to the complaint.

McKnight expressed that she was peacefully protesting. A San Francisco police officer then allegedly threatened her with sedation and although she said she didn't want it, a San Francisco firefighter reportedly injected her against her will while she was strapped into a gurney, the complaint said.

"One of the firefighters came with a needle toward me and I couldn't believe what I was seeing," McKnight told KCBS

McKnight reportedly "became dizzy and began to slur her words," the complaint said. She was taken to a Kaiser Permanente hospital in SF before being discharged, the complaint said. 

The lawsuit alleged that McKnight didn't display any signs of threatening behavior and the fire department was "without just cause" in injecting her. 

"I took the case because I was offended by the conduct of the officers — both the police officer and the paramedics of the San Francisco Fire Departing, giving a sedative to my client without her permission," said Burris, who is based in Oakland. "They did it because they just didn't like her attitude."

The Office of City Attorney David Chiu said it has not yet been served with the lawsuit. “We will review it once we are served and respond appropriately,” Jen Kwart, the spokesperson for Chiu's office, said. 

McKnight was allegedly sedated 11 days before the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion after nearly 50 years. 

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