The Black Lives Matter protests last summer were largely peaceful marches, but sometimes led to violent confrontations with police.
A lawsuit filed Thursday wants to make sure the city not only works to stop the clashes from happening again, but also pays up.
"This uprising was in defense of Black lives, and about racists, brutal policing, and the NYPD reacted by being brutal and racist," said attorney Elena Cohen.
Firms Beldock Levine & Hoffman, Gideon O. Oliver, Cohen & Green, and Wylie M. Stecklow came together to file a class action civil rights suit on behalf of the protesters' subjected to what they say was brutal policing from May 28th to June 6th.
The suit alleges the NYPD violently disrupted protesters' first amendment rights, arrested people without fair warning, used unreasonable force and failed to discipline officers involved.
Savitri Durkee is one of the plaintiffs.
She said she was involved with a protest in the South Bronx on June 4th that turned chaotic.
She said police began arresting people, and an officer "threw her to the ground" and "put a knee or baton into her back," despite her not resisting.
"We were attacked from at least three sides with no warning. It was chaotic, violent and extremely dangerous," Durkee said.
This class action follows the federal lawsuit State Attorney General Letitia James filed last week alleging that NYPD officers have abused the civil rights of protesters for years, including at last year’s protests. The suit seeks a federal monitor to oversee the department’s handling of demonstrations.
What makes this lawsuit different, though, is that the plaintiffs are seeking financial damages.
"It is imperative that the communities most affected by this misconduct that occurred over the summer have a seat at the table as to when to hold the police accountable and that once they're held accountable to fashion remedies to make sure it doesn't happen again," said attorney Jonathan Moore.
Responding to the new lawsuit, the city's Law Department said, "A deadly pandemic and the murder of George Floyd contributed to a perfect storm of challenges for our city. The NYPD has a longstanding track record of successfully protecting the right of the public to protest while ensuring public safety, and is committed to strengthening those efforts."