New York City has agreed to pay millions of dollars to protesters who sued the NYPD, saying they were mistreated during a June 2020 demonstration following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The proposed settlement, it it’s approved by a federal judge, would pay out $21,500 apiece to more than 300 protesters who were arrested in The Bronx. The June 4 demonstration was among numerous “Black Lives Matter” protests in New York City, across the country and around the world after the killing of Floyd.
On May 25, 2020 Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, while accompanied by three other officers, pressed his knee on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, for more than nine minutes. Chauvin has since been convicted of murder and manslaughter and sentenced to 22-1/2 years in prison.
According to the 2020 class action lawsuit brought on behalf of The Bronx protesters, New York police trapped hundreds of peaceful demonstrators in a strategy known as “kettling” ahead of an 8pm curfew. The police then initiated mass arrests, using batons and pepper spray on some of the packed-in crowd.
“In the course of this litigation, we learned that this operation was preplanned and coordinated at the highest levels of the NYPD,” Ali Frick, one of the protesters’ attorneys, said in an interview.
In a statement, the NYPD said the protest had occurred at a “challenging moment” when officers—already dealing with the Covid pandemic—attempted to balance the right of people to protest with safety concerns.
New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board last month recommended that 146 officers face disciplinary actions for the use of excessive force during the 2020 protests. During and after the protests, the board received about 750 complaints of police misconduct, and launched investigations into 321 of them.
The total payments could amount to roughly $7 million, not including attorneys’ fees, but a precise accounting was not yet available. Some protesters have also pursued individual claims and reached separate settlements.