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NYC to pay millions to George Floyd protesters boxed in by police

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New York City has agreed to pay $21,500 (£17,900) each to over 300 people who were allegedly boxed in and beaten during racial justice protests in 2020.

If approved, the multimillion dollar deal will become one of the largest amounts ever awarded per person in a mass arrest case.

The protest in the Bronx was one of hundreds that rocked the US after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The class-action case was brought on behalf of five protesters.

The class-action lawsuit, first filed in October 2020, accused the New York Police Department (NYPD) of a “brutal response” to a racial justice protest that took place in the Mott Haven neigbourhood of the Bronx on 4 June 2020, less than two weeks after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

Documents filed to court alleged that police boxed in the protesters – a tactic commonly known as “kettling” – before restraining them with plastic handcuffs and striking them with batons.

The lawsuit added that the police operation to “suppress” protesters left many “injured and bleeding. Some protesters fainted, or lost consciousness and went into convulsions”.

About 320 people were arrested, detained or “subjected to force” by officers at the event, according to the settlement document.

One of the victims, 31-year-old Samira Sierra, told the New York Times that “we had every right to protest, yet, the City of New York made an explicit statement that day that the people of the Bronx are at will to be terrorised.”

While settlement notes that $21,500 will be paid to “eligible class members who submit timely claim forms”, it is unclear how many people will be able to make claims.

Lawyers quoted by the New York Times said that about 90 of the over 300 people eligible have already settled with the city in separate claims.

The case could ultimately cost the city between $4m and $6m.

The individual total of $21,500 is believed to be the highest ever for a class-action lawsuit stemming from a mass police action.

In a $13.7m settlement in 2010, a federal judge awarded $18,000 each to protesters taken into custody during a 2000 protest that took place near the World Bank and International Monetary Fund buildings in Washington DC.

The settlement must still be approved by a judge.

The NYPD said it “remains committed to continually improving its practices in every way possible”, according to news outlet Axios.

The BBC has reached out to the NYPD for comment.

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