A historic agreement was announced today in a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of more than 300 protesters who were kettled and brutally assaulted by the NYPD during a protest in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx during a protest following the killing of George Floyd. According to the terms of the proposed settlement, the City of New York will pay each protester $21,500; and some will receive an additional $2,500. This is believed to be the highest per-person settlement in a mass arrest class action lawsuit in New York City history.
“This protest took place a week into the uprisings that began as the result of George Floyd’s death. And because the NYPD had knowledge of this protest taking place in a South Bronx neighborhood composed of predominately Black and Brown bodies, we were an example. A message. This settlement serves as testimony of the wrongdoing by the hands of the NYPD, and it is a reminder that this institution is not built to protect Black and Brown communities,” Amali Sierra, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said.
On June 4, 2020, peaceful protesters gathered in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx in response to the killing of George Floyd to protest the role of police in upholding systemic racism. 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.
“The violence unleashed upon us that night was intentional, unwarranted, and will be with me for the rest of my life. What the NYPD did, aided by the political powers of New York City, was an extreme abuse of power. While I am relieved that we have been able to secure some monetary restitution for those of us brutalized by the NYPD that night, nothing will change what happened to us and so many others suffering under the boot of the police in America,” Henry Wood, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said.
“On June 4th, 2020, during the height of a global health crisis, alongside 300 Black and Brown individuals, I was violated by the NYPD. 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,” Samira Sierra, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said.
In the class action lawsuit brought by five of the protesters – Samira Sierra, Amali Sierra, Ricardo Nigaglioni, Alex Gutierrez, and Charles Wood – the City of New York has agreed to pay $21,500 to each person trapped and attacked on East 136th Street on June 4, 2020, and an additional payment of $2,500 to people who were issued Desk Appearance Tickets instead of Summonses and were generally detained longer.
“The images from the NYPD’s operation in Mott Haven are reminiscent of ‘Bloody Sunday’ on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965. This unprecedented settlement recognizes that the NYPD’s actions on June 4th were grievously wrong and we hope this settlement marks an inflection point for policing in New York City,” Plaintiffs’ attorney Joshua S. Moskovitz, Partner in charge of Civil Litigation at Hamilton Clarke, LLP, said.
If the proposed settlement is approved by the Court, all of the protesters kettled protesters on East 136th Street between Brook Avenue and Brown Place on June 4, 2020 will receive notice of the settlement terms and they will have several months to accept or object to the proposed settlement. Lawyers for the plaintiffs and the City have proposed that a final fairness hearing be held in October, and if the settlement is approved after that hearing, payments will be mailed before the end of the year.
“While we are happy to have gotten this result for the people who were attacked and arrested, the fact remains that the highest leadership of the NYPD carried out an organized, premeditated attack on peaceful citizens in broad daylight with no real consequences. The protest against police brutality was met with police brutality, and that brutality was tacitly approved by the City's failure to address what happened,” Plaintiffs’ attorney Michael L. Spiegel said.
“This case helped expose the premeditated, violent attack on this community that was conceived and executed by high-ranking officers at the NYPD,” Plaintiffs’ attorney Rob Rickner, the founder and principal attorney of Rickner PLLC, said.
“The highest levels of the NYPD coordinated a pre-planned assault on peaceful protesters, and we're gratified that this historic settlement will provide some measure of justice to those who suffered from this brutality. We hope this historic award forces the City to finally account for how it polices peaceful demonstrations,” Plaintiffs’ attorney Ali Frick, partner at Kaufman Lieb Lebowitz & Frick, said.