Philadelphia officially settled four federal lawsuits Monday, committing to give around 350 people a total of $9.25 million after police allegedly hurt them amid 2020 demonstrations following George Floyd’s killing, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The group of lawsuits cited a June 1, 2020, incident in which Philadelphia police tear-gassed protestors en masse on the Interstate 676 highway, the outlet reported. Lawyers also described officers using military-style armored vehicles, rubber bullets and pepper spray on protesters and residents during looting and violence in a West Philadelphia historically black business area, with many plaintiffs allegedly experiencing mental trauma and some being hospitalized.
“The pain and trauma caused by a legacy of systemic racism and police brutality against Black and Brown Philadelphians is immeasurable,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said Monday, according to the Inquirer. “While this is just one step in the direction toward reconciliation, we hope this settlement will provide some healing from the harm experienced by people in their neighborhoods in West Philadelphia and during demonstrations on I-676 in 2020.”
The settlement requires the city to donate $500,000 to a fund for police violence victim counseling community-led programming, the Inquirer reported. Philadelphia’s city council ultimately moved in October 2020 to prohibit the use of tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray on demonstrators.
Protests and riots raged in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other major cities that summer, and Property Claim Services data indicated the violence likely caused enough damage to trigger $1 billion or more in insurance claims, according to Axios.
New York City reached a settlement on Feb. 28 to provide hundreds of protestors affected by police excessive force during a 2020 George Floyd protest with $21,500 payments, NBC News reported, with U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon approving it days later, according to the New York Daily News.
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