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New York City has agreed to pay more than 300 Black Lives Matter protesters $21,500 each after they were zip-tied, hit with batons and pepper-sprayed during a 2020 demonstration.

The protesters took to the streets on June 4, 2020, to protest the police-involved murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis 10 days earlier, when they say members of the New York Police Department boxed them in and prevented them from leaving in a practice known as ‘kettling.’

Officers wielding batons then swung at the protesters and hit them with pepper spray, before restraining hundreds of the demonstrators with plastic zip ties for violating a citywide curfew.

If a judge approves the settlement filed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, the New York Times reports, it would be one of the highest ever awarded per person in a class action case for mass arrests.

In total, the city could spend between $4million to $6million on the settlement. 

This is the moment a riot broke out at a June 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in the Bronx, with the NYPD now agreeing to pay $21,500 to each of around 300 protesters kettled during the demonstration

This is the moment a riot broke out at a June 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in the Bronx, with the NYPD now agreeing to pay $21,500 to each of around 300 protesters kettled during the demonstration 

Another image of the clash showed cops and protesters tussling close to a car. The NYPD has admitted flouting its own rules on how to handle protesters

Another image of the clash showed cops and protesters tussling close to a car. The NYPD has admitted flouting its own rules on how to handle protesters 

Protesters took to the streets in the Bronx on June 4, 2020, to protest the police-involved killing of George Floyd

Protesters took to the streets in the Bronx on June 4, 2020, to protest the police-involved killing of George Floyd

Members of the NYPD are pictured preparing for the protesters as they made their way down 136th Street

Members of the NYPD are pictured preparing for the protesters as they made their way down 136th Street

According to the lawsuit, obtained by DailyMail.com, protesters were marching down the Mott Haven section of the Bronx on June 4, 2020, when police surrounded them on 136th Street between 7pm and 7.30pm — ahead of a citywide curfew at 8pm.

That came in response to looting and riots that swept New York in the wake of Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin

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A report at the time said that cops heaved their bikes into protesters, while another group of officers emerged at the top of the street and started charging down the hill, pushing protesters into the advancing group of bike cops.

Soon, the lawsuit says, ‘police indiscriminately struck protesters with batons, threw them to the ground and sprayed them with a chemical agent.’ 

Videos posted online also showed police pushing protesters and arresting legal observers and even medical staff in the early days of the COVID pandemic.

At one point, a video posted by Human Rights Watch showed police body slammed a woman to the ground and surrounded protesters with their batons before striking those on the outskirts.

People could be heard in the video shouting: ‘We’re getting maced,’ and telling police officers: ‘You’re going to kill someone.’ 

These tactics, the lawsuit argued, were approved directly by city leaders like then-Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Police Chief Terence Monahan who spoke out openly against the protests that caused widespread looting and destruction of property.

Together, they tried to ‘suppress the protests with well-orchestrated operations corralling and violently arresting the protesters,’ the suit claims.

‘Many protesters were left injured and bleeding. Some protesters fainted, or lost consciousness and went into convulsions.’ 

By doing so, the lawsuit alleged, the NYPD violated the protesters’ First Amendment right to freedom of expression as well as their Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection of the laws.

The plaintiffs also raised state-law claims for false arrest; assault and battery; denial of medical care; infliction of emotional distress; negligent hiring, training and supervision; and excessive detention.

‘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,’ Samiera Sierra, one of the protesters who sued the city said in a statement to the Times. 

A protester is pictured here being surrounded by officers at the protest on June 4, 2020

A protester is pictured here being surrounded by officers at the protest on June 4, 2020

A protester at the Bronx demonstration is pictured with a flag saying 'Breathe', likely a reference to George Floyd's cry of 'I can't breathe' as he was murdered by Derek Chauvin 10 days earlier

A protester at the Bronx demonstration is pictured with a flag saying ‘Breathe’, likely a reference to George Floyd’s cry of ‘I can’t breathe’ as he was murdered by Derek Chauvin 10 days earlier 

A subsequent report from the Human Rights Campaign found the cops acted in a way that was ‘unprovoked and without warning, whaling their batons, beating people from car tops, shoving them down to the ground and firing pepper spray in their faces.’ 

But the kettling strategy was broadly defended at the time by Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, who said it was needed because the protesters were defying curfews set after looters ransacked parts of Manhattan.

Shea also claimed the Bronx protest was organized by ‘outside agitators,’ and de Blasio said, ‘There was a specific pre-announced threat of violence, and then people appeared at the protest with weapons and gasoline.

‘It is absolutely incumbent upon the police to make sure that does not proceed, because we won’t tolerate violence,’ he said. 

No gasoline or weapons were ever recovered from the scene, though, and the lawsuit claims ‘no justification exists for the brutal and indiscriminate force used against Plaintiff and other peaceful protesters.’ 

And those who were arrested eventually got their cases dismissed. 

A man in a scarf raises his fist during protests in the Bronx during June 2020, which will now likely result in a $4-6 million settlement paid by the NYPD to kettled protesters

A man in a scarf raises his fist during protests in the Bronx during June 2020, which will now likely result in a $4-6 million settlement paid by the NYPD to kettled protesters

New York City will now pay those protesters $21,500 under the proposed settlement agreement, as well as $2,500 to each class member who was given a Desk Appearance ticket and all ‘reasonable attorneys fees and costs.’

The lawyers are seeking an additional $2.5million for those fees, according to court documents obtained by DailyMail.com.

They described the agreement to the Times as ‘historic,’ noting that the highest amount paid per person in a case of mass arrests was previously in 2010, when a federal judge awarded $18,000 per person to demonstrators arrested during a 2000 protest near the World Bank and International Monetary Fund buildings in Washington DC as part of a $13.7million settlement.

Lawyers said that while around 330 people were eligible to receive the payments, as many as 90 have already settled with the city in separate complaints.

Others may have decided to file separate claims against he city, especially those who reported more severe injuries. 

The settlement is expected to be finalized in October, according to the Gothamist, with victims likely receiving compensation before the end of the year. 

Meanwhile, the New York Police Department said its policies and training for large-scale demonstrations have been revised, based on internal reviews and recommendations from three outside agencies that investigated police actions following the 2020 mass protests.

‘The NYPD remains committed to continually improving its practices in every way possible,’ the department said in a statement to the Times.

It went on to say 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.’

DailyMail.com has also reached out to the Police Benevolent Association for comment. 

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