NYPD Faces a Class Action Lawsuit Over Conduct During Summer Protests

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NYPD Faces a Class Action Lawsuit Over Conduct During Summer Protests
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The New York Police Department (NYPD) is facing a new class action lawsuit over false arrests, excessive force, and infringement of First Amendment rights among other allegations during the Black Lives Matter summer protests of 2020.

In May of 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement gained significant momentum following the death of George Floyd.

Following George Floyd’s death, protesters around the country took to the streets to exercise their constitutional rights. While protestors were met with varying degrees of resistance from law enforcement around the country, the NYPD allegedly took extreme measures to interfere with the Black Lives Matter protests. The official class action complaint makes the point that in contrast, protests surrounding other issues such as the Blue Lives Matter movement involved “virtually no arrests”. This would seem to indicate that a deep miscarriage of justice occurred considering the hundreds of arrests of Black Lives Matter protesters from May through June of 2020.

A collection of plaintiffs are representing the broader class of protesters who were injured during the protests, but all share similar stories.

The plaintiffs’ experiences as described in the lawsuit include but are not limited to the following:

  • Charging at and striking protesters with bicycles (i.e. kettling)
  • Charging at protesters without warning
  • Body-slamming protesters
  • Beating protestors
  • Applying flex-cuffs too tightly to protesters’ wrists
  • Refusing to help arrested protesters replace their fallen facemasks when they were unable to do so themselves.
  • Forcibly removing protesters’ face masks during the arrests
  • Holding arrested protesters for 8 or more hours without food

Injuries sustained by these and other protesters during their arrest have reportedly required repeated medical treatment in some cases, ranging from orthopedic injuries to lacerations. To add insult to injury, when attending the summons given to them by the police, many of the charges faced by these protesters were dismissed. Plaintiffs point not only to medical expenses as tangible damages suffered as a result of the NYPD’s conduct, but time missed from work as well. These and other damages will be taken into account when the case goes to trial.

The demands in this lawsuit focus heavily on policy requirements and injunctive relief, as well as financial relief for the injured.

The named plaintiffs on behalf of all protesters similarly situated are seeking both a permanent injunction preventing the NYPD from violently disrupting future protests, as well as a retainment of jurisdiction in this case; the latter would ensure that the court’s jurisdiction over the NYPD’s conduct will continue until no more “unlawful conditions, practice, policies, acts and omissions” as discussed in the lawsuit continue to exist. In regard to monetary relief, the lawsuit is seeking “compensatory and punitive damages in amounts that are fair, just and reasonable, to be determined at trial” in addition to any further relief the Court deems appropriate if the lawsuit succeeds.

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