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Community Activist Surprised By $5.75 Million Columbus Settlement

Protesters on the sidewalk of the Ohio Statehouse face Columbus Police officers, who stood in the middle of High Street, on June 1, 2020.
Paige Pfleger

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit brought against the city for police brutality during the social justice protests last year said she's pleased but surprised by the city's settlement for nearly $6 million.

Lead plaintiff Tammy Fournier Alsaada, a community activist, was pepper-sprayed without provocation after receiving permission to walk through a line of police to discuss the arrests of some protesters, according to the July 2020 lawsuit filed by the injured protesters.

Alsaada said she hoped for some accountability, but didn't know if that would happen. She said it's a step forward in solving the police-community relationship.

“This moves us really forward in police accountability. But there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. We still are yet to address the issues of racism in communities of color,” said Alsaada.

Alsaada said she was emotionally traumatized when police pepper-sprayed, tear-gassed, and harassed her and other protesters.

“I was maced, pepper-sprayed, teargassed, chased, targeted, and harassed during the protests, during the George Floyd protests of last summer,” said Alsaada. “My injuries are more mental and trauma injuries to my personal being and to my mental health."

Other protesters claimed a variety of injuries including broken bones.

Columbus city council is expected to vote on the settlement Monday. In late January, a third party from out of state will negotiate how the settlement will be dispersed amongst the 32 plaintiffs.

The settlement also finalizes details of a federal judge's ruling earlier this year that ordered Columbus police to stop using nonlethal force such as tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets on nonviolent protesters who aren't harming people or destroying property.