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NYC agrees to pay millions to hundreds of George Floyd protesters who were corralled by police

The settlement "reflects an acknowledgment by the city that the NYPD’s actions in Mott Haven on June 4 were tragically wrong," a lawyer in the case said.
NYPD officers arrest protesters for breaking the citywide 8:00PM curfew in Bronx, N.Y.
New York police officers arrest protesters for breaking a citywide curfew in the Bronx on June 4, 2020. David Dee Delgado / Getty Images file

New York City has agreed to pay more than $21,000 each to hundreds of protesters who were surrounded, arrested and subjected to excessive force by police during a George Floyd protest in 2020, according to court documents.

A proposed settlement filed in federal court late Tuesday said the city would compensate about 320 people who participated in the protest June 4, 2020, in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx borough.

In the filing, the city agreed to pay eligible class-action members $21,500 each, as well as another $2,500 to each person who received a desk appearance ticket. The two named plaintiffs in the case would receive another $21,500 "service award," according to the proposed settlement, which must be reviewed and approved by the court before taking effect.

“The settlement, in our view, reflects an acknowledgment by the city that the NYPD’s actions in Mott Haven on June 4 were tragically wrong," Joshua Moskovitz, an attorney for the protesters, said Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the New York City Police Department said in statement that the 2020 protests were 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.” 

The lawsuit alleged that the NYPD “arrested and charged the protestors without probable cause and subjected them to excessive force, as part of a planned police action involving some of the most senior members of the NYPD.”

Hundreds of protesters who were demonstrating against police brutality and racism after Floyd's death were encircled and corralled by a group of police officers wearing riot gear and riding bicycles in a controversial practice known as “kettling.”

“The NYPD in an operation planned by the highest levels of police officials, kettled protesters on East 136th Street between Brook Avenue and Brown Place and unleashed a brutal assault on more than 300 people, who were injured, arrested, and detained for hours,” attorneys for the protesters said in a statement about the proposed settlement. 

“This is believed to be the highest per-person settlement in a mass arrest class action lawsuit in New York City history,” they said.

“On June 4, 2020, during the height of a global health crisis, alongside 300 Black and Brown individuals, I was violated by the NYPD,” Samira Sierra, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said in the statement. “We had every right to protest, yet, the City of New York made an explicit statement that day that the people of the Bronx are at will to be terrorized.”

Floyd, a Black man, was killed by Minneapolis police May 25, 2020, igniting a national and global reckoning on racial disparities and fueling calls for police reform.

The NYPD spokesperson said the Floyd protests prompted the department to make changes to its policies and training for large-scale demonstrations.