Philadelphia reaches $9.25 million settlement with George Floyd protesters
The City of Philadelphia reached a $9.25 million settlement with 343 protesters who were hit with tear gas and pepper spray during the 2020 George Floyd demonstrations, the city said in a statement.
The protesters, who included residents of West Philadelphia, filed a class action suit alleging “physical and emotional injuries” caused by the city’s response to demonstrations on May 31 and June 1, 2020, to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the city said.
The $9.25 million will be distributed among the 343 demonstrators and their attorneys, but damages will vary. Additionally, the city will provide $500,000-$600,000 in grants to the Bread & Roses Community Fund, which provides free mental health counseling to 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,” the city said.
Attorneys described the actions of the Philadelphia Police Department as a “militaristic use of force during peaceful protests,” CBS News Philadelphia reported.
Mayor Jim Kenney said he hoped the settlement will lead to “reconciliation” between police and minorities in Philadelphia.
“The pain and trauma caused by a legacy of systemic racism and police brutality against Black and Brown Philadelphians is immeasurable,” Kenney said in a statement. “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.”
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said the Philadelphia Police Department was committed to “moving forward.”
“The mass demonstrations that took place in Philadelphia and across the nation in response to the murder of George Floyd were unprecedented in scope,” Outlaw said in a statement. “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 nonstop towards improving what we as police do to protect the first amendment rights of protesters, keep our communities and officers safe, and to ultimately prove that we are committed to a higher standard,” she added.