City To Pay $9.75 Million To Settle Protesters Lawsuits From 2020
by Alex Lloyd Gross
March 21, 2023
Philadelphia officials agreed to spend almost 10 million dollars of taxpayer money to settle a lawsuit brought by multiple plaintiffs that claim injury, after they were involved in the George Floyd Protests in June of 2020.
The majority of these stem from the protests in West Philadelphia and on 676, where tear gas was used to disburse a crowd of thousands. While some of the injuries were more significant than others, like some people that were deliberately tear gassed in the face at close range, or those that were assaulted by police or arrested for simply being in a legal spot and not doing anything wrong.
Then there are those that walked onto a restricted highway,(676) to march to an undetermined location. This large mass of people on a controlled access highway is dangerous. Motorists were on edge after just a few days ago seeing police cars set on fire and turned over. Now here comes a group of several thousand people. Some are walking through carrying sign and chanting.
However, there were others that would spray graffiti on bridge abutments and or bang on cars that were stopped in traffic. Those motorists were petrified than an angry mob would drag them out of their vehicles.
Under the Agreement, a total of $9.25 million will be distributed among the 343 Plaintiffs. Additionally, a grant will provide $500,000-$600,000 to Bread & Roses Community Fund for free mental health counseling for West Philadelphia residents. Mental health counseling will be available to all residents within a radius of 52nd Street corridor in West Philadelphia, not just plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Previously, the city denied all wrong doing. At a press conference in center city, some of the plaintiffs were trotted in front of the TV cameras to give prepared, written statements. There were 343 plaintiffs. None of them are going to be millionaires The money will not be split evenly. Someone that claims to have nightmares is going to get much less money than someone that has physical ailments that can be linked to or were enhanced by police conduct.
You can read coverage of the event here and here
This is the same protest that saw decorated Deputy Police Commissioner Dennis Wilson demoted to Chief Inspector for authorizing the use of tear gas.
The city issued a statement which reads:
“After several years of negotiation, we are confident that this settlement will provide an opportunity for the plaintiffs to heal and move forward from the incidents on May 31, 2020 and June 1, 2020. We are thankful that as a part of the terms of the settlement, Bread & Roses Community Fund will have the opportunity to provide mental health counseling to affected residents,” said Diana Cortes, City Solicitor.
“The pain and trauma caused by a legacy of systemic racism and police brutality against Black and Brown Philadelphians is immeasurable. While this is just one step in the direction toward reconciliation, we hope this settlement will provide some healing from the harm experienced by people in their neighborhoods in West Philadelphia and during demonstrations on I-676 in 2020. We are proud of the progress made through the Pathways to Reform, Transformation, and Reconciliation initiative and continue to collaborate with the Philadelphia Police Department to implement reforms and keep our communities safe,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.
“The mass demonstrations that took place in Philadelphia and across the nation in response to the murder of George Floyd were unprecedented in scope. The Philadelphia Police Department is a learning organization, and we remain dedicated to moving forward in meaningful and productive ways. Along with city, state, and community stakeholders, we will continue to work non-stop towards improving what we as police do to protect the first amendment rights of protestors, keep our communities and officers safe, and to ultimately prove that we are committed to a higher standard,” said Danielle Outlaw, Police Commissioner.