Settlement between Minneapolis, protesters hurt during Floyd demonstrations approved by court
A federal judge has approved a settlement agreement between the city of Minneapolis and a dozen protesters who were hurt during the demonstrations that followed George Floyd’s murder.
The agreement was formally proposed three weeks ago and was accepted by U.S. District Judge Katherine Menendez on Wednesday.
Under the terms of the agreement, the injured protesters will split a $600,000 payment from the city, which also will have to implement several reforms.
The order calls for the city to not arrest, threaten to arrest or use force — including chemical agents and foam bullets — against anyone who lawfully and peacefully protests or demonstrates. It also says that officers at a protest or public assembly must have a body camera on and can’t intentionally obstruct the camera’s view, and any officer who must use chemical agents to disperse a crowd acting unlawfully must first give verbal dispersal orders and reasonable time for the people to disperse.
“People who are demonstrating peacefully should never be met with police violence as they were in Minneapolis during protests over MPD’s murder of George Floyd,” Teresa Nelson, the legal director of Minnesota’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “Tear gas, foam bullets and pepper spray became weapons for intimidating and hurting protesters, making it dangerous for people to exercise their First Amendment rights. We hope this settlement sends a message to law enforcement across Minnesota that this violation of our constitutional rights will not be tolerated.”
With the agreement, two lawsuits filed against the city and Minneapolis police officers after Floyd’s death have been dismissed.
The city sent the following statement from Minneapolis City Attorney Kristyn Anderson to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS:
“The City Council approved a $600,000 settlement on Oct. 20, and Mayor Frey signed the Council action Oct. 26. The City Attorney’s Office executed and filed documents necessary to effectuate the settlement, and an order reflecting portions of that settlement were made public today.”Minneapolis City Attorney Kristyn Anderson
In a statement regarding the settlement, the Office of Mayor Jacob Frey sent the following:
“In June 2020 we reformed the requirements for use of crowd control weapons. This settlement expands upon that reform and policy.”
Mayor Frey’s office was referring to the reform that requires the authorization of crowd control weapons to be done by the “Chief of Police, or the Chief’s designee at the rank of Deputy Chief or above. Crowd control weapons include, but are not limited to, chemical agents, rubber bullets, flash-bangs, batons, and marking rounds.”
One of the 12 plaintiffs, was longtime community activist Nekima Levy Armstrong who said she was outside the third precinct the days following Floyd’s killing.
“In my opinion, protesters were treated as if they were disposable,” Armstrong said.
“It was very traumatizing when it happened – I remember just coughing [and] feeling like I’m coughing my lungs up,” she added.
Armstrong adds she hopes these reforms have a meaningful impact in Minneapolis and influences other agencies to adopt similar policies.
“If there is proper training of Minneapolis Police officers, and if there is actual enforcement and accountability, it will change what happens in the streets when people are protesting,” Armstrong said.