Philadelphia has now agreed to pay $9.25 million to more than 300 people who claimed that they suffered “physical and emotional” injuries during the violent protests following the death of George Floyd.
A photo from Emma Lee at local WHYY shows protesters gathered along the Interstate 676 with traffic stopped, and police arresting them. Dashcam footage was also released.
The city reportedly announced the details of the settlement in a class-action lawsuit that focused on the events of May 31 and June 1, 2020, according to the New York Times.
The plaintiffs involved are reportedly residents of West Philadelphia and others who took part in the protest shutting down Interstate 676. Plaintiffs called for the police to be held accountable over the methods they used to clear protesters and allow traffic to move on the highway.
According to the report, the massive $9.25 million will be given to a total of 343 plaintiffs. Though there is video evidence that suggests the authorities used tear gas and pepper spray on protesters, the protesters also claimed that police used rubber bullets.
Mental health counseling will apparently be made available to residents along an unspecified radius, not just the plaintiffs involved in the 2020 protests. Additionally, the Times reported that a grant of “$500,000 to $600,000” to the Bread & Roses Community Fund will contribute to mental health counseling.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney chimed in on the issue, saying: “The pain and trauma caused by a legacy of systemic racism and police brutality against Black and Brown Philadelphians is immeasurable.”
He continued: “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.”
However, Kenney did not appear to address the immense damage done to Philadelphia during that time. According to 10 Philadelphia, there were 9 fires set on May 30, and many locations were looted as a result of the so-called demonstrations that took place around the city. The unrest had become so severe that former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf had suggested that the National Guard would have to get involved if the unrest did not simmer.
Danielle Outlaw, commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department, said that her department “will continue to work nonstop towards improving what we as police do to protect the First Amendment rights of protesters, keep our communities and officers safe, and to ultimately prove that we are committed to a higher standard.”
The Times reported that settlement was reached just weeks after New York City agreed to pay “$4 million to $6 million” to George Floyd protesters in the Bronx around the same time as the Philadelphia protests.