New York City and the New York Police Department (NYPD) have agreed to a settlement that will pay millions to a group of Black Lives Matter rioters who were arrested or detained during a series of riots in June of 2020.
As ABC News reports, the settlement claims that the over 300 rioters in question were detained through a police tactic known as “kettling,” where police create a large formation for the purpose of encircling and then corralling a group of violent rioters in order to contain the violence.
Despite being a common tactic to control large-scale acts of violence, the rioters who were detained in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx on June 4th, 2020 nevertheless sued for damages; the settlement agreed to pay each rioter approximately $21,500, amounting to $7 million in total, which would make it the largest settlement ever in a class action lawsuit over a mass arrest.
“We are really pleased with the settlement,” said Ali Frick, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “This was essentially a premeditated show of force against people who were demonstrating against police violence.”
“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, citing several of the rioters who claimed, with no evidence, that they were beaten with batons and sprayed with pepper spray even after being zip-tied.
Even after the settlement was announced, several of the rioters continued to complain about being arrested.
“The violence unleashed upon us that night was intentional, unwarranted, and will be with me for the rest of my life,” said rioter Henry Wood. “What the NYPD did, aided by the political powers of New York City, was an extreme abuse of power.”
“We had every right to protest,” said fellow rioter Samira Sierra. “Yet, the City of New York made an explicit statement that day that the people of the Bronx are at will to be terrorized.”
The NYPD released its own statement after the settlement, largely defending the officers involved while also claiming that the department’s policies had been updated since the incident.
“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,” the statement read. “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 NYPD remains committed to continually improving its practices in every way possible,” the statement concluded.