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Detroit City Council Approves $1.3M Settlement for Protesters Who Were Reportedly Abused During 2020 Civil Unrest After Killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor

The city of Detroit has authorized a six-figure settlement for protesters who allege they were abused by police during 2020’s summer of civil unrest sparked by the police-involved killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The lion’s share of the award will be given to Black Lives Matter advocates who claim they were victims of excessive force by cops patrolling the social justice demonstrations.

On Tuesday, July 26, the Detroit City Council voted to deliver an almost $1.3 million settlement package to civilians who filed five different lawsuits against the city. 

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

One plaintiffs group, Detroit Will Breathe, tweeted, they “were not aware that there would be a city council vote regarding a settlement offer in our federal lawsuit.”

The Council’s session lasted seven hours, with the vote being one of the last points of business before the council recessed until September. Unanimously, the members approved the extraordinary dollar amount to be distributed to 22 individuals.

Out of the $1,265,000 award that could resolve the complaint before trial, $1,035,000 will be given to the organization Detroit Will Breathe, consisting 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 string of deaths connected to police throughout the nation.

In this lawsuit, Detroit Will Breathe spoke about the constant clashes they had with local law enforcement, believing the officers developed tactics specifically to target its members. The city of Detroit’s lawyers filed a countersuit calling the organization’s allegations a “criminal conspiracy.” 

Michigan Radio noted the countersuit was dismissed.

The 14 co-plaintiffs are approved to receive the following: $45,000 to Tristan Taylor, Jazten Bass, and Margaret Henige; $90,000 to both Nakia Wallace and Iman Saleh; $75,000 allocated to Lauryn Brennan; $120,000 to Amy Nahabedian; $150,0000 to Caylee Arnold; and $250,000 to Alexander Anest.

Nadia Rohr will receive $150,000, Emma Howland-Bolton and four plaintiffs would receive $60,000 and both Timothy Hall and Marlon Frazier will each receive $10,000 a piece.

According to the Detroit Free Press, specific aggressions from the DPD as reported in the many lawsuits included the use of tear gas, pepper spray, flash grenades and chokeholds, rubber bullets, sound cannons, and mass arrests without probable cause. 

As a way to stop the violations in real-time, Detroit Will Breathe secured a temporary restraining order in September 2020 against the DPD, that stopped police from using striking weapons, chokeholds, and sound cannons against protesters for two weeks.

$1.3M not only includes the damages the people incurred, but also any attorney fees the plaintiffs stacked up while pursuing this case.

James Craig, former Detroit Police Chief and GOP write-in candidate for governor, said he was “troubled” by the settlement. He called the agreement in a statement, “shameful.”

He wrote, “Detroit was the only major city in the country that did not burn” in 2020.

“On the occasions when our officers were attacked or violation of law was committed, we used only the force necessary to overcome violence perpetrated against officers,” he continued. “Our commitment throughout the 100 plus days of protests was to maintain order and safety in our city.”

The case, according to the lawyer for Detroit Will Breathe, is not settled until the plaintiffs have seen and accepted the city’s offer. 

In fact, on Wednesday, July 27, at 6:38 p.m., the organization released a statement on the Twitter page, saying, “Our organization and participating plaintiffs were not aware that there would be a city council vote regarding a settlement offer in our federal lawsuit. At this time, the city has not presented us with an offer and we have not accepted any offer.”

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