|But the plaintiffs say the payout vindicates their assertion that police violated protesters’ constitutional rights.
“Although the city does not admit liability in this settlement, the size of this monetary settlement, coupled with the earlier settlement about Mott Haven, strongly suggests otherwise,” said lead plaintiff Adama Sow.
Lawyers with the National Lawyers Guild’s New York City branch filed the case in 2021 “on behalf of the thousands of people who participated in racial justice protests across New York City in the summer of 2020, following the police murder of George Floyd,” per the lawyers’ statement. They used police body cam and helicopter surveillance footage to help prove their claims, paying special attention “to specific types of misconduct including improper baton strikes, improper use of pepper spray, improper use of force, improper arrests and the use of a tactic called kettling where protesters are corralled into tight spaces before being arrested.”
As part of the settlement submitted this week for Judge Colleen M. McMahon’s approval, the city will pay $9,950 each to around 1,380 protesters arrested by the NYPD at 18 protests that took place between May 28 and June 4, 2020. People arrested for certain offenses, like assaulting police, are not part of the settlement.
Additionally, the city will pay the plaintiffs’ attorney fees, which could amount to millions of dollars more.
“This will be the largest amount paid to protesters in a class action in this nation’s history,” according to attorneys on the case.
“The payout agreement follows a record-setting settlement earlier this year for hundreds of people who attended another 2020 protest in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx,” notes Gothamist. “In that case, the city agreed to pay $21,500 to each eligible protester, for a total of about $6 million.”