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Columbus City Council Approves $5.75 Million Settlement With Injured Protesters

A Columbus Police officer aims a pepper spray cannister at a protester's face on May 30, 2020.
Katie Forbes
A Columbus Police officer aims a pepper spray cannister at a protester's face on May 30, 2020.

Columbus City Council has signed off on a nearly $6 million settlement with 32 people involved with the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.

The suit claimed the plaintiffs suffered injuries at the hands of Columbus police officers, who were widely criticized for their response.

As a part of the settlement, the city is forbidden from using nonlethal force
including tear gas, pepper spray and wooden pellets on peaceful demonstrators.

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.

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

Other protesters claimed a variety of injuries including broken bones.

Police did not admit fault in the settlement, although now former police chief Tom Quinlan told WOSU "mistakes were made" in officers' early response. Mayor Andrew Ginther also criticized police for their use of force.

Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.