Denver awarded a $4.7 million settlement in a case alleging that hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters were unfairly arrested for violating the city’s nighttime curfew between May 30 and June 5, 2020, during the George Floyd protests, the Washington Post reports. The plaintiffs argued that the city’s curfew and subsequent arrests targeted BLM protesters, violating their First and 14th Amendment rights. The majority of the protesters were detained for up to two days at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, their lawyers said. “Many of the protesters faced serious hardships due to their detention, such as lack of medical care for injuries or medical conditions, nearly being fired due to missing work, and even suicide attempts,” the plaintiffs' law firm, Loevy & Loevy, added. The same law firm won a $14 million jury award in March 2022 for 12 demonstrators injured by Denver police action during the Floyd protests.
The defendants in the latest case — the City and County of Denver — denied any wrongdoing or liability, court documents show, but agreed to settle given the uncertainty and risks associated with a jury trial. Continuing the fight, the city said, “would be burdensome and expensive,” according to the documents. The settlement is the latest in a string of cases in which law enforcement officials have come under scrutiny for using excessive force or cracking down on BLM protests that erupted after Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody. Officials in more than two dozen cities imposed curfews and governors in 26 states called in the National Guard to quell violent protests in 2020. In March 2022, the city of Philadelphia agreed to pay nearly $10 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over accusations of excessive force. The previous month, two men in Austin received $10 million in a settlement after suffering significant injuries during the protests. Denver’s police department announced multiple policy changes in the aftermath of the Floyd demonstrations, including on the use of less-than-lethal munitions and documentation of use of force during protests. In December 2020, an independent monitor that probed police response to the protests found that the use of force by police was “extremely troubling.”