Detroit City Council approves $1.3 million settlement for protesters who were reportedly abused during the 2020 civil unrest following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor

The city of Detroit has approved a six-figure settlement for protesters who claim they were mistreated by police in the summer of 2020. The lion’s share of the award will go to Black Lives Matter advocates who claim they have been victims of excessive violence at the hands of police officers patrolling the social justice demonstrations.

On Tuesday, July 26, the Detroit City Council voted to deliver a nearly $1.3 million settlement package to civilians who had filed five separate lawsuits against the city.

Those lawsuits charged members of the Detroit Police Department with complicity in police misconduct, harassment, excessive force and other violations of their First and Fourth Amendment rights while detaining them during the protests.

One plaintiff group, Detroit Will Breathe, tweeted that they were “unaware that there would be a City Council vote on an offer of settlement in our federal lawsuit.”

The council meeting lasted seven hours, with the vote being one of the last working items before the council went on hiatus until September. Members unanimously approved the extraordinary dollar amount to be distributed to 22 individuals.

Of the $1,265,000 in damages that could resolve the pretrial complaint, $1,035,000 will go to the Detroit Will Breathe organization, which consists of 14 other plaintiffs.

Detroit Will Breathe led the Detroit Black Lives Matter protests, organizing novice and veteran justice fighters to speak out against the police-related death chain across the country.

In that lawsuit, Detroit Will Breathe spoke about the constant clashes with local law enforcement and believed officers had specifically devised tactics to target their members. Detroit city attorneys filed a countersuit, calling the organization’s allegations a “criminal conspiracy.”

Michigan Radio found that the counterclaim was dismissed.

The 14 joint plaintiffs are agreed to receive: $45,000 to Tristan Taylor, Jazten Bass and Margaret Henige; $90,000 to Nakia Wallace and Iman Saleh; $75,000 allocated to Lauryn Brennan; $120,000 to Amy Nahabedian; $150,000 to Caylee Arnold; and $250,000 to Alexander Anest.

Nadia Rohr is awarded $150,000, Emma Howland-Bolton and four plaintiffs are awarded $60,000, and both Timothy Hall and Marlon Frazier are awarded $10,000 each.

According to the Detroit Free Press, specific attacks by DPD, as reported in the many court cases, have included the use of tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades and chokeholds, rubber bullets, sonic cannons, and mass arrests without probable cause.

To stop the real-time violations, Detroit Will Breathe obtained an injunction against the DPD in September 2020, barring police from using batons, chokeholds and sonic cannons against protesters for two weeks.

$1.3 million includes not only the damages caused to the people, but also all the legal fees that the plaintiffs amassed in pursuing this case.

James Craig, a former Detroit Police Commissioner and the GOP’s enlisted candidate for governor, said he was “disturbed” by the settlement. He called the agreement “shameful” in a statement.

He wrote, “Detroit was the only major city in the country that didn’t burn” in 2020.

“In those instances where our officers have been assaulted or a violation of the law has occurred, we have used only the force necessary to subdue the violence perpetrated against officers,” he continued. “Our commitment throughout the 100+ days of protests has been to maintain order and security in our city.”

The case, Detroit attorney Will Breathe said, would not be settled until the plaintiffs saw and accepted the city’s offer.

In fact, on Wednesday, July 27, at 6:38 p.m., the organization released a statement on its Twitter page, which read: “Our organization and the plaintiffs who attended were unaware that there was a City Council vote on a settlement offer in our federal lawsuit. At this point, the city has not presented us with an offer and we have not accepted any offer.” Detroit City Council approves $1.3 million settlement for protesters who were reportedly abused during the 2020 civil unrest following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor

James Brien

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