DENVER (KDVR) — Denver’s council approved a $4.72 million settlement with hundreds of protesters arrested for curfew violations during the 2020 demonstrations against police brutality.
The settlement is for two cases consolidated as a class action for more than 300 protesters, according to Loevy & Loevy, the civil rights firm that represents them. Denver City Council approved the settlement at its Monday afternoon meeting.
“The city has agreed to pay for this one instance of violent suppression of free speech, while they continue to brutalize and imprison people every day,” Claire Sannier, one of the arrested protesters who filed the lawsuit, said in a statement. “Our message is that Black Lives Matter is as necessary now as it was in 2020.”
Sannier is one of two people leading the class of plaintiffs in the settlement with Denver. The second case involves now-state Rep. Elisabeth Epps, the lead of several protester plaintiffs in a lawsuit where a federal jury found Denver liable for $14 million in damages.
Curfew at issue for 2020 protesters
The protesters argued police selectively arrested them for violating an emergency curfew enacted at the height of the demonstrations, in violation of their constitutional rights. Their attorneys said instead of getting tickets for curfew violations, the protesters were arrested and detained at the jail — some for longer than two days.
Prosecutors dismissed the cases against them just weeks after the arrests, according to Loevy & Loevy.
Along with the compensation, “the settlement prevents the city from enacting any curfew enforced against those engaged in protest activity in the future,” the protesters’ lead attorney, Elizabeth Wang, said in a statement. “This is a win that will protect free speech in Denver for the years to come.”
The ACLU of Colorado also released a statement about the development.
“We are happy to see that the city of Denver, through its substantial settlement payment, acknowledged its unconstitutional curfew order. Denver Police never should have enforced an unconstitutional curfew to suppress people’s First Amendment free-speech rights,” legal director Tim Macdonald said.
As part of the settlement, Denver denies the emergency curfew was targeted against the protesters.