Victimhood translated into major profits after the City of Brotherly Love reached a seven-figure settlement with Black Lives Matter protesters related to “physical and emotional injuries.”
Within the week after the 2020 death of George Floyd while in police custody, the world witnessed as lockdown restrictions and laws alike were disregarded in the name of social justice. In Philadelphia, that included hundreds of protesters taking to a busy interstate highway to block traffic, forcing a police response to put an end to the civil unrest.
The unlawful demonstration was dispersed from I-676 with the deployment of non-lethal measures such as tear gas and pepper spray, and now those activists are being rewarded with a payday of $9.25 million.
Genuinely asking: Has anyone seen photo or video of the I-676 protest yesterday that involves rocking and surrounding a police vehicle, as Philly mayor Jim Kenney said? It didn’t happen where I was, but I was behind where the escalation started. Forgot this video in the thread pic.twitter.com/IDLcSxu3LP
— Jeff Neiburg (@Jeff_Neiburg) June 2, 2020
Video shows Philadelphia protesters attempting to climb up a hillside along an expressway as police fire tear gas to disperse the crowd. https://t.co/DN0fZszQcW pic.twitter.com/MMfH9UdqvZ
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 2, 2020
Monday, the city announced the settlement of a lawsuit that had been filed on behalf of 343 protesters asserting they had experienced “physical and emotional injuries caused by the City’s response to civil unrest and demonstrations.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s (D) office released a statement that explained, “Under the Agreement, a total of $9.25 million will be distributed among the 343 Plaintiffs. Additionally, a grant will provide $500,000-$600,000 to Bread & Roses Community Fund for free mental health counseling for West Philadelphia residents.”
The sum amounts to nearly $27,000 per protester after Kenney had already waived all violations protesters had been charged with. “My decision to waive these violations is not a statement on the validity of the individual citations,” he said at the time. “Rather, it is a recognition of the core concerns that caused thousands to demonstrate on the streets of Philadelphia.”
Leftist Philly mayor waives hundreds of fines, arrests related to BLM protests https://t.co/5nvb1z9NcF pic.twitter.com/DjHZweORm2
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) July 11, 2020
The commutations applied to nearly twice as many protesters as had been named in the class action lawsuit and Monday Kenney said, “The pain and trauma caused by a legacy of systemic racism and police brutality against Black and Brown Philadelphians is immeasurable. 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. We are proud of the progress made through the Pathways to Reform, Transformation, and Reconciliation initiative and continue to collaborate with the Philadelphia Police Department to implement reforms and keep our communities safe.”
That sentiment was echoed by City Solicitor Diana Cortes who suggested, “After several years of negotiation, we are confident that this settlement will provide an opportunity for the plaintiffs to heal and move forward from the incidents on May 31, 2020 and June 1, 2020. We are thankful that as a part of the terms of the settlement, Bread & Roses Community Fund will have the opportunity to provide mental health counseling to affected residents.”
Meanwhile, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw remarked, “The mass demonstrations that took place in Philadelphia and across the nation in response to the murder of George Floyd were unprecedented in scope. The Philadelphia Police Department is a learning organization, and we remain dedicated to moving forward in meaningful and productive ways.”
“Along with city, state, and community stakeholders, we will continue to work non-stop towards improving what we police do to protect the first amendment rights of protestors, keep our communities and officers safe, and to ultimately prove that we are committed to a higher standard,” Outlaw added.
The settlement was similar to one presented in New York where the city may agree to pay at least $21,500 to over 300 protesters wherein the lawsuit alleged “the New York City Police Department arrested and charged the protesters without probable cause and subjected them to excessive force, as part of a planned action involving some of the most senior members of the NYPD,” CNN reported.
In that case, the protesters have been given six months to accept or oppose the settlement pertaining to the arrests made on June 4, 2020.
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