MINNEAPOLIS — The city of Minneapolis has reached a $600,000 settlement with 12 protesters who were injured during demonstrations after the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union announced Wednesday.
The agreement, which also includes numerous reforms, was accepted the same day by a federal judge, making it official after the city approved it in October.
The agreement includes an injunction that prohibits the city from arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force, including chemical sprays, concussion or concussion grenades, and foam-tipped bullets, against individuals participating in lawful protests. It also limits the use of chemical agents by officers to disperse peaceful protesters. And it requires officers to have their body cameras recording and unobstructed during protests, according to the ACLU.
The money will be distributed among the plaintiffs.
Floyd, a black man, was killed on May 25, 2020, when then-Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, knelt on his neck for nine and a half minutes during an arrest. Video of the restraint was recorded by a bystander and viewed around the world, sparking worldwide protests as part of a broader reckoning over racial injustice.
In Minnesota, the protests lasted for days. While most of the protesters were peaceful, some damaged buildings and started fires, even burning down a police station.
Two lawsuits filed in 2020 and later consolidated accused Minneapolis police of using unnecessary and excessive force against protesters. They alleged that the police used tear gas, as well as rubber and foam bullets to intimidate them and quell the protests, and also that the officers often fired without warning or orders to leave.
The plaintiffs’ injuries included bruises from less-lethal munitions, persistent respiratory problems from tear gas and psychological trauma that has dampened their desire to protest in the future, the ACLU said.
“Tear gas, foam bullets, and pepper spray were weaponized to intimidate and injure protesters, making it dangerous for people to exercise their First Amendment rights,” said ACLU-Asia legal director. MN, Teresa Nelson, in a statement. “We hope this settlement sends a message to Minnesota law enforcement that this violation of our constitutional rights will not be tolerated.”
City Attorney Kristyn Anderson said the City Council approved the agreement on October 20 and Mayor Jacob Frey approved it six days later. Anderson said her office filed the necessary documents and an order reflecting parts of the agreement was made public Wednesday.