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Payne et al. v de Blasio et al.

The New York Civil Liberties Union and The Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit against Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, Chief of Department Terence Monahan, the City of New York, and several individual police officers for their roles in the indiscriminate brutalizing of peaceful protestors during the protests following the police killing of George Floyd. The suit addresses the first month of protests between May 28 and June 28, where swarming officers used batons, pepper spray, and other aggressive techniques to retaliate against New Yorkers for showing their support of Black lives and demanding an end to police violence. Such uses of excessive force against these demonstrators violated their First and Fourth Amendment rights.

The suit claims the mayor and city instituted a de facto policy allowing individual officers to violently target protesters by repeatedly approving forceful deployments and refusing discipline or repercussions for blatant officer misconduct.

The NYCLU and Legal Aid Society are representing eleven plaintiffs who all experienced indiscriminate violence and harm at the hands of police, including being beaten by batons, being pepper sprayed, getting shoved to the ground, being cuffed in tight zip-ties, and kettling. Several of the protesters were also arrested and jailed without adequate food, water, medical supervision, or protective equipment to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This action seeks to hold the City responsible for the unlawful and outrageous conduct of police officers in response to citywide demonstrations seeking to change the very police violence at issue. We are seeking discovery and disclosure from the city to reveal the extent to which they authorized the treatment of protesters, and we are asking the court to declare that the defendants’ actions violate the First and Fourth Amendments and award plaintiffs compensatory and punitive damages.

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