Denver’s City Council has given the nod to a $4.7 million settlement for over 300 Black Lives Matter protesters detained by Denver Police during the 2020 summer George Floyd demonstrations.
This consent agenda by the city council is a response to those who took to the streets after the tragic passing of George Floyd. This settlement comes on the heels of last year’s $14 million disbursement to 12 wounded protesters, now being appealed in a federal court, and an earlier $1.6 million compensation to seven other injured individuals this year.
In a 2022 decision, a federal jury ordered a payout of $14 million for 12 Black Lives Matter demonstrators harmed in a commotion following George Floyd’s death. They concluded that the Denver Police had encroached on the protesters’ constitutional rights using non-lethal weaponry.
Lindsay Jordan, representing Denver, stressed to the jurors the necessity of intervention given the community disruptions. However, the activists held the City and County of Denver, along with ex-police officer Jonathan Christian, accountable. The Denver Gazette mentioned the jury’s findings that Christian had infringed upon Epps’ Fourth Amendment rights, awarding her $250,000 as punitive damages. However, her First Amendment claims against him were dismissed.
The attorneys for the protesters maintained their client’s innocence, emphasizing they neither inflicted harm on officers nor vandalized property.
Compensations were as follows:
Claire Sannier: $1 million
Stanford Smith: $1 million
Zachary Packard: $3 million
Sara Fitouri: $1 million
Maya Rothlein: $1 million
Amanda Blasingame: $1 million
Joe Deras: $1 million
Elle Taylor: $1 million
Ashlee Wedgeworth, $750,000
Jackie Parkins: $1 million
Elisabeth Epps: $1 million in damages, plus $250,000 in punitive damages.
Elizabeth Wang, representing the protesters, emphasized the significance of this settlement in preserving First Amendment rights, decrying the detention of over 300 individuals for merely expressing their dissent. The Denver Gazette cited a 2021 federal district court order estimating that almost 300 individuals were arrested solely for curfew violations or failure to comply with lawful orders, only to have their cases dismissed later.
The Denver Police Department, in a conversation with CBS News Colorado, refuted any breach of constitutional rights. The City Attorney’s Office clarified that the lawsuit, filed on behalf of 300+ individuals apprehended during the May 2020 protests, alleges First and Fourteenth Amendment violations. While Denver refutes these claims, a proposed settlement will allocate between $3.0 to $3.5 million to the class members, with the rest covering legal and administrative expenses.
Charlie Kirk, Founder & CEO of TPUSA, commented on the situation, pointing out multiple cities paying settlements and expressing concerns over the potential consequences of these payouts.
Last year, reports from The Gateway Pundit highlighted settlements by New York City and Philadelphia, compensating demonstrators and those affected during the George Floyd protests.