2020 was a wild time. COVID was a thing, the police were handing out public executions to people over cigarettes, and people were using their newfound free time to exercise their fundamental rights. The NYPD also used that time to exercise — I’ve been told by reliable sources that pushing unarmed people in between hitting them with batons is great cardio. Some, and this bears repeating — only some, of the police exercise has been caught on video. One particular NYPD workout spree is set to cost the city quite the gym fee.
New York City has agreed to pay millions of dollars to demonstrators who sued the police department, saying they had been mistreated during a June 2020 racial justice protest that followed the killing of George Floyd.
The proposed settlement would award $21,500 to each of the more than 300 people arrested in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the city’s Bronx borough if it is approved by a federal judge.
Mistreated is an understatement. I remember one time in my youth I mistreated a waiter by only paying 15% for relatively good service. Don’t worry, with time I learned the mistake of my ways. You don’t agree to pay out ~$7M over “mistreatments.” If your memory is a little foggy around what passed for good policing in New York during 2020, here is a light refresher.
You would think that herding and beating several hundred people who were out protesting against a man being killed in broad daylight, and then having the nerve to complain that people aren’t respecting you enough was a ham-fisted Batman vigilante origin story, not a plan orchestrated by people whose literal only job is to protect and serve.
According to a class action lawsuit filed later in 2020, New York police trapped hundreds of peaceful protesters in a strategy known as “kettling” before an 8 p.m. curfew took effect and then initiated mass arrests, using batons and pepper spray on some of the demonstrators.
“In the course of this litigation, we learned that this operation was preplanned and coordinated at the highest levels of the NYPD,” Ali Frick, one of the lawyers who brought the case, said in an interview. She said the settlement appears to be the largest ever on a per-person basis for any class action suit related to a mass arrest.
It couldn’t have been that hard to discover that the operation was preplanned and coordinated at the highest levels of the NYPD — there’s been a 60+ video compilation of NYPD officers assaulting unarmed protesters up for over two years now.
Rule of thumb people: one person protesting getting detained and beaten for acting on a First Amendment right? Horrible. That happens to over 300 people at once? Somebody greenlit that. Wishing that the payout will be approved by a federal judge, I hope that it will bring a bit of peace to the protestors who had their rights violated.
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by tweet at @WritesForRent.