New York to compensate over 300 protesters for police violence

New York to compensate over 300 protesters for police violence
Credit: Belga

New York City will pay more than $20,000 each to some 320 protesters who were victims of a controversial police operation in the Bronx in June 2020 during anti-racism protests marred by violence that followed the death of George Floyd, according to a court document.

In the weeks following the death of the African-American man - killed on 25 May 2020 by a white police officer in Minneapolis - New York, like other major US cities, had seen thousands of people take to the streets to protest against racism.

Some demonstrations had degenerated into scenes of looting and police violence had been denounced, particularly in New York.

In early February, a city commission charged with collecting complaints recommended disciplinary action against police officers in 146 cases of violence, abuse of authority or verbal abuse.

The agreement reached by the city of New York, which still has to be validated by a federal judge, concerns only one demonstration, on June 4, 2020, in the Bronx, according to a court document filed on Tuesday with the proceedings and circulated on Wednesday by the media.

Police are accused of using a circling technique that day to prevent any movement by protesters, who were arrested, charged without legitimate cause, and subjected to excessive force, according to the court document.

In its report, the city commission that looked into the case listed, among other things, complaints about some police officers beating protesters with batons, and using teargas and handcuffs indiscriminately.

Queried by French news agency AFP, the NYPD said the complaints followed arrests for violations of the curfew, then in place at 8 p.m. and decided by then-Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio after incidents at previous protests.

The police added that it was "a difficult time" for their officers, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and that they had done everything possible to facilitate the right to peaceful expression, while dealing with acts of lawlessness.

The NYPD added, however, that it had rethought its policy and training on policing large-scale demonstrations.

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