The New York Police Department (NYPD) has reached a settlement agreement in response to lawsuits regarding its behavior during the 2020 racial justice protests. As part of the settlement, the NYPD has agreed to ban several controversial policing tactics used on demonstrators.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Legal Aid Society announced the reforms on Tuesday after suing the city’s police department. The agreement is expected to significantly change the NYPD’s response to mass demonstrations in the future.
Under the new reforms, the NYPD will adopt a four-tiered response system that prioritizes de-escalation techniques instead of flooding protests with police officers. The use of tactics such as “kettling,” where officers encircle and press upon a group of demonstrators, will be prohibited. The low-flying helicopters used to intimidate protestors will also no longer be allowed.
In addition to the ban on controversial tactics, the NYPD will hire a senior executive to oversee the implementation of the new response system during public demonstrations. Officers will now only intervene and make arrests as a last resort, giving three warnings for crowds to disperse before taking action.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams praised the forthcoming changes, stating that they strike a balance between public safety and safeguarding the first amendment rights of demonstrators. The reforms aim to protect peaceful protesters and ensure their right to assemble and exercise free speech is respected.
This settlement comes after New York City paid record settlement amounts to protestors injured by police during the 2020 racial justice protests. In July, it was announced that a total of $13.7 million would be paid out to protestors who were beaten and arrested by police during a George Floyd protest. This follows a previous settlement of $6 million paid in March to protesters who experienced excessive force during a racial justice protest in the Bronx.
The agreement reached by the NYPD and the subsequent settlements in New York City reflect a growing trend across the United States. At least 19 cities have already agreed to pay more than $80 million to protestors injured during the 2020 demonstrations, and this number is expected to rise.