New York City has agreed to pay several million dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by protesters who say they were assaulted, abused and trapped by police using a technique known as a “boil on” at a protest following the killing of George Floyd.
In court documents late Tuesday, the city said it will pay $21,500 to each of the at least 200 protesters who were arrested, detained or treated violently by police during a June 4, 2020, protest in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx.
The city said it will also pay $21,500 per plaintiff in legal fees and an additional $2,500 to protesters given court appearance tickets, meaning the bill from the class action could be close to $10 million or more.
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A judge still needs to approve the settlement. Attorneys for the plaintiffs said they believed it would be the city’s highest-ever settlement in a mass-incarceration class action and heralded it as a “historic settlement.”
It is one of several lawsuits alleging NYPD officers mistreated protesters who took to the streets nightly after the police killing of Floyd in Minnesota on May 25, 2020. Similar protests have taken place in cities and towns across the US
At the Mott Haven protest, the NYPD was criticized for cracking down on protesters, effectively trapping them and giving them no choice but to break the curfew the city had implemented to quell the unrest.
“The violence that was unleashed against us that night was intentional, unwarranted, and will be with me for the rest of my life,” plaintiff Henry Wood said in a statement released through lawyers. “What the NYPD did, with the help of New York’s political powers, was an extreme abuse of power.”
One of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Joshua Moskovitz, said the NYPD’s actions in Mott Haven were reminiscent of “Bloody Sunday,” when civil rights protesters were beaten by police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965.
“We hope this settlement marks a turning point for policing in New York City,” Moskowitz said.
In a statement, the NYPD said the protests amid the COVID-19 pandemic were a “challenging time” for officers and the department, and that it has since reformed the way it responds to protests.
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“Many of the NYPD’s policies and training for policing large-scale protests have been redesigned based on the findings of analyzes created by the department itself and recommendations from three outside agencies that carefully researched that period,” the department said. . “The NYPD remains committed to continually improving its practices in every way possible.”
Civil rights group Human Rights Watch released a report in October 2020 citing evidence that police were planning an aggressive crackdown on protesters in Mott Haven.
Police used bicycles to form a wall around the protesters, while officers, including some in riot gear, assaulted protesters – hitting them with batons, kicking and punching them and spraying them with pepper spray, the report said. .
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At least 61 people were injured, with injuries including a broken nose, missing tooth, sprained shoulder, broken finger, lacerated lip, black eyes and bruises.