Columbus Reaches $ 5.75 Million Settlement Deal With Protesters

The city of Columbus, Ohio, announced Thursday that it had reached an agreement to pay $ 5.75 million to 32 plaintiffs who said they wer...

The city of Columbus, Ohio, announced Thursday that it had reached an agreement to pay $ 5.75 million to 32 plaintiffs who said they were injured and their constitutional rights violated by members of the Division of city ​​police during social justice protests in the summer of 2020.

After the murder of George Floyd last year, plaintiffs were among many in Columbus who took part in the protests that swept the country. The plaintiffs alleged in a lawsuit filed last year in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio that officers from the Columbus Police Division used excessive force against them and violated their constitutional rights .

Announcing the settlement agreement, which is subject to city council approval, the Columbus city attorney’s office said during the protests, police “made arrests and used force, including , but not limited to pepper spray, tear gas, wooden batons, and sponge rings.

Some plaintiffs were “seriously injured” during the protests, Zach Klein, the city’s lawyer, said in the statement, adding that “it was the city’s responsibility to accept responsibility and pay restitution.”

“While it has certainly been a difficult and painful time for our community, it has resulted in important, and in some cases long overdue, reforms of police practices, policies and oversight,” Klein said. , who noted that the money for the settlement would come from the city’s general fund.

“This regulation is a good step forward for the Police Division and for the community as a whole, as it sets out defined parameters and clear expectations for all when exercising and protecting First Amendment rights. in Columbus, ”he said.

Klein said many Columbus police officers performed their jobs “professionally” during the protests, “but this litigation has exposed serious issues that need to be resolved.”

Earlier this year, three Columbus police officers were charged with misconduct in connection with the protests, and Klein said more could be charged.

Also this year, after an evidentiary hearing, Chief Justice Algenon L. Marbley of the United States District Court granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Columbus Police “from using non-lethal force, including tear gas. , pepper spray, rubber balls, wood pellets, etc. non-violent protesters, ”according to a statement from the city.

As part of the settlement, the city would agree to make the injunction permanent.

In a statement, Tamara K. Alsaada, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said that “one of the problems we face with the police in America is the deep hostility of law enforcement towards anyone. questions or exposes racism and violent attitudes among many within the police service.

At least three of the plaintiffs suffered fractures, according to court documents. Mr. Klein said that because each plaintiff had different injuries, the settlement amount would not be divided equally and that a mediator would determine the damages and settlement amounts for each plaintiff.

In a statement, Robert Clark, director of the Columbus Department of Public Safety, said the settlement was a “step toward” repairing relationships that “have been damaged.”

“We recognize how painful this chapter has been for everyone involved, including the women and men of the Columbus Police Division and the community we serve,” said Mr. Clark. “Before there can be healing, there has to be responsibility.”

Chanda Brown, a lawyer for protesters, said in a statement that a change was needed to “respond to the reality that many officers are targeting anyone who questions their authority.”

Alyssa Lukpat contributed reports.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Columbus Reaches $ 5.75 Million Settlement Deal With Protesters
Columbus Reaches $ 5.75 Million Settlement Deal With Protesters
Newsrust - US Top News
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