On August 28, 2023, the Denver Colorado City Council approved a historic $4.72 million settlement to over 300 #BlackLivesMatter protestors who were wrongfully arrested and detained for violating an “emergency” curfew while protesting the murder of George Floyd in June 2020.
This settlement resolves a class action lawsuit filed by #BlackLivesMatter protestors who were arrested under Denver’s nighttime curfew banning presence in public spaces–which specifically targeted only BLM protestors, as shown by police texts unearthed in the case:
Instead of being given tickets for allegedly violating this curfew, Black Lives Matter protestors were arrested and detained during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the protestors were detained up to two days, but many of them were detained even longer than that.
Many of the protestors 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.
“[Denver] agreed to pay for this one instance of violent suppression of free speech, while they continue to brutalize and imprison people every day. Our message is that #BlackLivesMatter is as necessary now as it was in 2020,” said Claire Sannier, one of the arrested protestors.
“Over 300 people were arrested for the simple act of protesting. The First Amendment does not allow police to clear the streets of protestors simply because they do not agree with their message,” said Loevy & Loevy Partner Elizabeth Wang, lead attorney for the protestors.
“In addition to compensation to protestors, the settlement prevents the City from enacting any curfew enforced against those engaged in protest activity in the future,” said Ms. Wang. “This is a win that will protect free speech in Denver for the years to come.”
This is not the first legal win for Denver #BlackLivesMatter protestors relating to police actions in 2020. In a landmark case brought to trial last year, a federal jury awarded $14 million to 12 protestors who were injured by Denver police.