Two sisters — one a former Peace Corps worker, the other a doula — along with roughly 330 other BLM protestors have been awarded a payout from New York City of $21,500 each in what is being hailed as a “historic” settlement against the New York Police Department.
Bronx residents Samira Sierra, 31, and Amali Sierra, 25, were two of five listed plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit that accused the NYPD of wrongfully surrounding and brutalizing activists during a June 2020 Black Lives Matter protest.
The incident took place on June 4, 2020, on 136th Street in the Bronx’s mostly residential neighborhood of Mott Haven.
More than 300 people gathered to protest the death of George Floyd when police corralled them into a one-block area using a controversial method known as “kettling,” USA Today explains. Once surrounded, the lawsuit claimed, the protestors were beaten by baton-wielding cops, kicked, punched, and hit with pepper spray.
“At least 61 people were hurt, with injuries including a broken nose, lost tooth, sprained shoulder, broken finger, split lip, black eyes and bruises,” USA Today reports.
If the federal judge approves the proposed settlement, it would mark one of the highest per-person settlements ever awarded in a class-action case involving mass arrests. Pending approval, protesters will then have several months to either accept the proposal or object to its terms. In October, a fairness hearing will be conducted for final approval, according to attorney Rob Rickner.
“This settlement serves as testimony of the wrongdoing by the hands of the NYPD, and it is a reminder that this institution is not built to protect Black and Brown communities,” Amali told USA Today.
In a statement obtained by The New York Times, Samira said, “We had every right to protest, yet, the City of New York made an explicit statement that day that the people of the Bronx are at will to be terrorized.”
Samira, the former Peace Corps worker, and Amali, a doula for Sacred Light Services, were listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit alongside Ricardo Nigaglioni, Alex Gutierrez, and Charles Wood, the Daily Mail reports.
Amali “describes herself as a ‘South Bronx Afro Dominican’ and she graduated from the University of Albany with a degree in Anthropology. She also works as a Community Research Liaison at Mount Sinai in the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center,” according to the outlet. “Her sister, Samira, worked as a former advisor at National Financial Network and was a former Health Extension Volunteer for the Peace Corps.”
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