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Payne v. De Blasio Plaintiffs Respond to NYPD Protest Reforms

NEW YORK CITY – Today the New York Civil Liberties Union, The Legal Aid Society, and the State Attorney General’s Office announced a first-in-the-nation agreement with the New York City Police Department in Payne v. de Blasio et al. that significantly overhauls the NYPD’s policing of protests, preventing unnecessary and aggressive deployments of officers to protests and protecting the public from false arrests and excessive use of force.

The below statements are attributable to case plaintiffs:

“There’s really no way to put a price on the trauma and on-going fear evoked by the NYPD’s brutality,” said lead plaintiff Jarrett Payne. “I am haunted every day that the NYPD has the authority to harm me if they deem necessary, and potentially use it. Ultimately, I am proud of the settlement we reached in this case, and that it can potentially bring about more accountability and transparency in future situations. Hopefully it will signal to more people, that they can stand up to their brutality as well.”

“During the 2020 George Floyd protests, the NYPD violated my human rights, and the First Amendment rights of all those that took to the streets with me,” said Payne v. de Blasio et al. plaintiff Micaela Martinez. “They deployed their most violent tactics against communities of color that came together in the South Bronx, where I was arrested. The new tiered protest-response system will make clear that the NYPD cannot take our rights to free speech and assembly away in an instant. The new policy will protect the protest rights of New Yorkers calling for change as we continue to fight for justice and a more inclusive society. I’m proud to be part of the group of protestors and civil rights lawyers who stood up against this injustice,”

“I will never forget what I experienced during the summer of 2020: people protesting violence were met with violence, inflicted by NYPD officers on people who they claim to serve and protect,” said Payne v. de Blasio et al. plaintiff James Lauren. “I will never forget that as a medic in scrubs, I was forcibly detained and prevented from helping the injured. I will never forget feeling like those officers knew that they could do whatever they wanted to us with no consequence, as they’ve done in the past. I hope this settlement makes clear to any New Yorker protesting injustice that they can stand up with less fear. With this settlement, protestors who endured NYPD brutality in the streets made a change happen in the courts. We did not give up, we did not stand down, and there will always be more people ready to take on these kinds of challenges as long as they are needed.”

“The NYPD has deeply impacted New Yorkers’ lives due to exercising our First Amendment rights. Regardless of your stance, none of us should have faced trauma, both physical and mental, for voicing concerns about law enforcement’s disregard for Black lives. The NYPD’s motto, ‘Courtesy. Professionalism. Respect.,’ fell short, and this settlement is an important step toward what is needed to restore faith in these values. The NYPD must undertake extensive work beyond what’s been done. Are they up for the challenge? One can only hope,” said Payne v. de Blasio et al. plaintiff Matthew King-Yarde.

“This settlement will require the NYPD to follow certain limits on the future deployment of police officers to protests. In every one of our plaintiffs’ cases the presence of police escalated tension, resulting in injury and trauma. The very presence of police is threatening, and the most effective change we can make to protect protestors from police brutality is to minimize police involvement and interference. But a court order can only go so far to inform the NYPD’s actions. The cops who beat me and broke my arm violated a handful of their own policies in the process. We will now have one more tool for holding them accountable,” said Payne v. de Blasio et al. plaintiff Charlie Monlouis-Anderle.

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