A protester holds up a portrait of George Floyd during a “Black Lives Matter” demonstration in front of the Brooklyn Library and Grand Army Plaza on June 5, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York, amid ongoing protests over Floyd’s death in police custody. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images)
OAN’s Roy Francis
12:11 PM – Thursday, July 20, 2023
The city of New York has consented to pay over $13 million in a settlement of a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of around 1,300 people who had police encounters in the summer of 2020.
The lawsuit focused on 18 of the protests that took place in New York City after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The lawsuit states that, with a few exceptions, each person who was arrested or subjected to force by police officers will be eligible for $9,950 in compensation.
According to city officials, the agreement to settle the lawsuit allows the city to avoid a trial that they said would be both financially and politically burdensome.
Attorneys with the National Lawyers Guild, that represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit in New York, had accused the New York Police Department leaders of denying protesters throughout the city of their First Amendment rights. They claimed that the police department had denied protesters their rights through a “coordinated campaign of indiscriminate brutality and unlawful arrests.”
City attorneys defended the police force saying that city had come under chaos and that police officers were having to respond to and try to control an “unprecedented” situation in which police vehicles were set on fire, and officers were assaulted with rocks and plastic bottles.
Adama Sow, a plaintiff in the suit, said that the group of people he was marching with in 2020 had been separated by police and that they were placed in zip ties and that they were held in a correctional bus for several hours in hot weather.
“It was so disorganized, but so intentional,” Sow said. “They seemed set on traumatizing everyone.”
City officials invoked qualified immunity which protect the city’s police officers from individual lawsuits which would result from work performed in the line of duty.
The lawsuit, unlike previous ones brought against the department, does not seek changes within the NYPD or its practices. This lawsuit is one among many, which are ongoing, that is aimed at injunctive relief.
Another lawsuit that was settled earlier in 2023 will award $21,500 to individuals arrested by police during a demonstration in the Bronx in 2020. The total payout of the suit will total approximately $10 million.
The city of New York is also facing over 600 other lawsuits which were brought by separate individuals in relations to the 2020 protests. According to Brad Lander, the city comptroller, about half of the lawsuits have been settled, forcing the city to pay out around $12 million so far.
This latest settlement comes as other cities across the country are negotiating similar lawsuits with individuals who had taken part of the 2020 protests that saw over 10,000 people arrested within a few days.
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