The city of Minneapolis on Wednesday reached a $600,000 settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota (ACLU-MN) over alleged police mistreatment of protestors following the death of George Floyd.
The lawsuit was filed in 2020 by ACLU-MN, Fish & Richardson P.C., and Gustafson Gluek PLLC on behalf of 12 protesters who were injured when they took to the streets to peacefully demonstrate.
According to ACLU-MN, the class action lawsuit awards a $600,000 payment, to be split among the plaintiffs, and includes “numerous reforms.”
Specifically, it bans the city from “arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force,” which includes the use of chemical agents, flash-bang or concussion grenades, and foam-tipped bullets to stop people from engaging in lawful protests or demonstrations.
It also limits police use of chemical agents to disperse peaceful protests and requires that officers deployed to protests are wearing body cameras that are recording and are “unobstructed.”
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim to have suffered an array of injuries, including bruising, “lingering respiratory issues from tear gas, and psychological trauma “due to Minneapolis police using “unnecessary and excessive force” to suppress the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights to protests, including tear gas and rubber bullets.
They also alleged that officers often fired without warning or orders to leave.
The plaintiffs claimed that the psychological trauma they suffered as a result of this “excessive force” had quashed their desire to protest in the future.
Peaceful vs. Violent Expression
Wednesday’s agreed settlement and injunction resolve two lawsuits filed in 2020 against the City of Minneapolis, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, and various Minneapolis Police Department officers. Those lawsuits were later consolidated into one lawsuit.
The settlement dismisses claims against individual officers.
“People who are demonstrating peacefully should never be met with police violence as they were in Minneapolis during protests over MPD’s murder of George Floyd,” said ACLU-MN Legal Director Teresa Nelson in a statement.
“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. We hope this settlement sends a message to law enforcement across Minnesota that this violation of our constitutional rights will not be tolerated.”
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in May 2020 by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during an arrest after Floyd allegedly tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill to purchase cigarettes.
Chauvin held his knee against Floyd’s neck and back for approximately nine-and-a-half minutes as Floyd lay handcuffed and face-down on the pavement while, another officer, Thomas Lane, restrained his lower body and J. Alexander Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back.
Video of the incident quickly went viral online, sparking protests across the country, in which thousands of peaceful protesters but also many non-peaceful rioters participated, resulting in damage to some businesses from looting and arson. Many of the protests continued into early 2021 and prompted calls to defund the police.
According to a report from Axios, the destruction that occurred as a result of the demonstrations was estimated to see at least $1 billion to $2 billion of paid insurance claims.
Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter charges in Floyd’s death in April 2021, and sentenced to more than 22 years in prison.
The Epoch Times has contacted Minneapolis Police for comment.