New York City and its police department have jointly agreed to pay over 300 protesters nearly $7 million, 2 1/2 years after participating in a George Floyd demonstration. “We are really pleased with the settlement,” Ali Frick, the plaintiffs’ attorney, told ABC News. On May 25, 2020, former officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes, ultimately killing him during an attempted arrest. He was later sentenced to 21 years for murder and additional federal charges. Two other former officers were charged and also received sentences for their role in Floyd’s death.
Although the ex-cops were brought to justice, video and details of the horrific incident shook America. It sent millions of individuals to and through the streets of their cities protesting for Black Lives Matter. Among the demonstrators were 320 individuals who were reportedly zip-tied, battered with batons, and hit with pepper spray during their protest in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx in June 2020. “The Mott Haven protest really shocked the conscience when it happened. These protesters were kettled. Then the police moved in with extreme brutality that was totally uncalled for and unnecessary,” Frick continued.
Henry Wood, one of the demonstrators who sued, stated that while the reported settlement brings comfort, it still won’t erase what happened to him. “The violence unleashed upon us that night was intentional, unwarranted, and will be with me for the rest of my life,” Wood revealed. “What the NYPD did, aided by the political powers of New York City, was an extreme abuse of power.”
In a statement, the NYPD said, “It was a challenging moment for the department as officers who themselves were suffering under the strains of a global pandemic did their utmost to help facilitate people’s rights to peaceful expression, all while addressing acts of lawlessness including wide-scale rioting, mass chaos, violence, and destruction.”
“Two-and-a-half years after the protests of 2020, much of the NYPD’s policies and training for policing large-scale demonstrations have been re-envisioned based on the findings of the department’s own, self-initiated analyses and on the recommendations from three outside agencies who carefully investigated that period,” the department continued. “The NYPD remains committed to continually improving its practices in every way possible.”
Each protester will receive $21,500, which is reported to be the largest per-person proposed settlement for a lawsuit of that size.