New York City has agreed to shell out $21,500 apiece to the approximately 300 racial justice protesters who were “kettled” then beaten, pepper sprayed, and restrained with zip ties in the south Bronx three years ago.
If the agreement is approved by a federal judge, the total settlement could land anywhere between $4 and $6 million, and would be the highest ever that the city has awarded per person in a class action lawsuit, according to The New York Times. (Around 90 plaintiffs have already settled).
The June 4, 2020 protest in the Bronx was part of a national uprising against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis cop.
Videos from that demonstration show how, starting at around 7:45 p.m., NYPD officers started corralling protesters within the confines of a block, which prevented them from leaving the scene in observance of the 8 p.m. curfew that former Gov. Bill De Blasio imposed following instances of looting during the unrest.
When 8 p.m. rolled around, police started moving in on the crowd to make arrests, including legal observers who were deemed essential workers and exempt from the curfew. Officers were seen on video beating protesters with batons. “You’re gonna kill someone,” one protester was heard screaming.
Human Rights Watch interviewed or reviewed written accounts by 81 people who were involved in the protest, spoke to lawyers, activists, and city officials, and analyzed 155 videos recorded from the scene. In their 99-page report the group concluded that NYPD conduct amounted “to serious violations of international human rights law.” They reconstructed the sequence of events in a 12-minute video.
Last month, New York City published data showing that police misconduct settlements in 2022 had skyrocketed to their highest level since 2018, with a total value of $121 million.
Still, that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the overall NYPD budget, which, when including pensions and debt service, adds up to around $11 billion, according to the Citizens Budget Commission, a New York City spending watchdog. The preliminary budget for all of New York City for 2024 is around $102.7 billion, meaning roughly 10 percent of the total budget goes to policing.