Minneapolis is set to pay protesters $600,000 after city police injured them during the 2020 protests over the murder of George Floyd, according to a recent settlement in federal court.
The $600,000 award will be split among 12 defendants receiving $50,000 each, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, which led the case, announced in a press release.
City police must also now record themselves at protests with body cameras and cannot disperse lawful demonstrations with chemicals, non-lethal projectiles or any other physical force, according to an injunction concluding the case.
This recent settlement isn’t Minneapolis’ first payout to protesters. The city also recently agreed to pay more than $700,000 in another lawsuit over police conduct, CBS News reported. Other cities have done the same: Austin, Texas split $10 million between two protesters, and Denver had to cough up $14 million for 12 earlier this year.
There were at least 29 lawsuits pending nationwide over police actions in the 2020 protests when the Associated Press reported the figure in April.
The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, filmed on a viral video, triggered the largest protests in U.S. history. As they unfolded, footage of the protests devolving into fiery riots became as common as videos depicting police officers gassing, beating, and firing non-lethal projectiles at seemingly peaceful protesters, as reported by the Guardian.
“Tear gas, foam bullets and pepper spray became weapons for intimidating and hurting protesters, making it dangerous for people to exercise their First Amendment rights,” said Teresa Nelson, legal director for the ACLU of Minnesota. “We hope this settlement sends a message to law enforcement across Minnesota that this violation of our constitutional rights will not be tolerated.”
In Minneapolis’ recent settlement, the specific circumstances of the protesters’ injuries aren’t clear. But they alleged that their lawful demonstrations were met with tear gas and foam and rubber bullets fired without warning, leaving them with bruises, respiratory issues and psychological trauma, according to the release.
They alleged that law enforcement’s crackdown made them less likely to exercise their First Amendment right to protest in the future.
“This matter is equally about relief and justice for our named plaintiffs as it is about the necessity of preserving the rights of all concerned citizens to peacefully assemble, protest, and speak,” said Ahmed Davis, a lawyer for another law firm that prosecuted the case.