Cities Paying $80 Million to People Injured in Racial Justice Protests

Settlements have been reached with protesters teargassed, struck with projectiles, or otherwise assaulted in police actions.


People injured during 2020 protests in support of racial justice are collecting more than $80 million in settlement money from at least 19 cities, according to a report Thursday. 

The payouts are linked to lawsuits filed by injured protesters, many of whom were teargassed, shot with projectors, or otherwise assualted by police, the Guardian reported.

“I have never seen a wave of settlements for police brutality like this in American history,” Justin Hansford, a professor at Howard University School of Law, told the newspaper. 

A wave of protests across the nation was triggered following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in May 2020. Millions of people joined various protests in multiple cities against racism and police brutality.

A Charlotte Mecklenburg police officer sprays an anti-racist protestor with pepper spray after trying to remove them from a road during a protest against the 2020 Republican National Convention in Charlotte, NC on August 24, 2020

New York City, Philadelphia, Denver, Atlanta, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Oakland are among the cities that have and will be paying victims in the protests hit with harsh crackdowns. Advocates expect more settlements to come. 

Former journalist Linda Tirado was partially blinded and suffered a brain injury after she was struck in the face by a projectile considered "less than lethal" that was fired by police while she was covering the Minneapolis protests. She's reportedly being paid $600,000.

“You don’t recover from something like this. That’s not a thing you do,” Tirado told the Guardian.

The traumatic injury "effectively ended that part of my career," she told the Minneapolis Reformer last year.

Without depth perception, she has to use a walker to get around and finds it difficult to pour coffee in the morning, the publication reported. She also has trouble recalling words,.

Protester Anthony Evans was shot in the jaw in Austin by police using a similar projectile during a Black Lives Matter protest in the Texas capital in 2020.

“We were never, like, cussing or yelling in their face or anything. It was all just peaceful,” Evans said.

Observers believe the ultimate settlements could be a record.

“I think it’s reasonable to expect that numbers will eclipse past numbers,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Center for Protest Law and Litigation.

“We had millions of people flowing into the street to stand against racist police violence. And in city after city, and small town after small town, law enforcement was deployed to violently repress demonstrators,” she added.

Carol Sobel, a civil rights attorney in California, told the Guardian that after all the cases are settled “it will probably be a record amount, total, paid out across the country.”

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