Denver City Council recently approved a settlement to the Black Lives Matter demonstrators that were arrested by the Denver police during the 2020 protests.
Announced earlier this week, the decision was unanimously made amongst the leaders. Approved on Monday, the new settlement will give approximately $4.7 million to more than 300 people who were part of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd.
The settlement money will go specifically to people who had their First Amendment violated by the Denver Police Department. According to the lawsuit, the city allegedly used the official curfew to target protestors, violating their rights for free speech. The police department officials also allegedly took the protestors to jail instead of handing out tickets for breaking the temporary law.
As part of the case for the settlement, lawyers provided evidence through a series of texts sent amongst leaders of the Denver police department. The texts showed that the police enforced the curfew against the Black Lives Matter protestors only.
In a public statement, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Elizabeth Wang, emphasized the impact that the new settlement will have on the city.
“The First Amendment does not allow police to clear the streets of protestors simply because they do not agree with their message,” said Wang per a public statement. “In addition to compensation to protestors, the settlement prevents the City from enacting any curfew enforced against those engaged in protest activity in the future. This is a win that will protest free speech in Denver for the years to come.”
The announcement of the settlement by the Denver City Council comes one month after New York City agreed to pay $13 million to Black Lives Matter protestors. Considered to be the largest settlement ever paid to protesters in the U.S., the court release revealed that approximately 1,300 people will be paid approximately $9,950 each by the city.
The settlement money will be given to the protestors for the NYPD’s excessive use of force, including using batons and pepper spray against them. As victims of police misconduct, the protesters were also subjected to “kettling.” Considered a crown control technique, “kettling” refers to police using force to entrap the protesters into a single space.
The new Denver settlement also comes a little over a year after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Colorado city in March 2022. The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of 12 people who were hurt while protesting during the Black Lives Matter protests.
Considered to be the first case against the police’s misconduct during the 2020 protests, the jurors concluded that the protestors’ rights were violated, awarding $14 million to the protestors.