Crime /

Denver Forced to Pay $4.7 Million Settlement Over 'Targeting' George Floyd Rioters

Last year, the city was ordered to pay out $14 million to settle a similar case

The City of Denver will pay out $4.7 million to settle a class action lawsuit by protestors who alleged they were unfairly targeted for violating the city’s curfew during demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in 2020.

In the complaint, lawyers argued that the Denver Police Department (DPD) “used violent crowd control tactics” against “peaceful protestors” by deploying “constitutionally unlawful crowd control tactics, including kettling, indiscriminate and unwarned launching of tear gas and flashbangs into crowds and at individuals, and shooting projectiles at protestors.”

Despite no allegation or evidence of a racial motive, the lawsuit added, “These protestors included many young Black and Brown people.”

The riots over George Floyd’s death cost the city and private businesses more than $5.5 million in damages and overtime costs, The Denver Post reported in 2020. Rioters engaged in vandalism, spray-painting buildings and breaking windows in government and private businesses, damaging sculptures and other art installations, and toppling a Civil War monument and a statue honoring Christopher Columbus.

Large-scale riots began in Denver on May 28, two days after video footage of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling Floyd’s neck emerged. The riots continued for more than a week. The Denver District Attorney’s Office provided lists of protest-related prosecutions totaling 389 cases.

A majority of the cases were dismissed after prosecutors declined to pursue charges against more than 300 people arrested for curfew violations and failing to obey police orders, the Post reported.

The lawsuit alleged that Denver selectively enforced the curfew against protestors to suppress their First Amendment right to free speech.

“The First Amendment does not allow police to clear the streets of protestors simply because they do not agree with their message,” the lead attorney for the protesters, Elizabeth Wang, said in a statement.

The settlement is the second victory for protestors who challenged the DPD’s actions during the city’s violent riots in 2020. Last year, a jury in a federal case ordered Denver to pay $14 million in damages to two protestors after allegations Denver police officers used excessive force against them during the 2020 riots.

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