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San José’s Brutal Use of Weapons Against Racial Justice Protestors

Background

In September 2023, racial justice protestors who were attacked and injured by San José Police during 2020 protests received a $3.35 million settlement in the case of NAACP of San José / Silicon Valley, et al., v. City of San José.

In May 2020, the San José Police fired hundreds of so-called “less lethal” weapons into crowds during protests in downtown San José that followed the murder of George Floyd. Among the many injured was bystander M. Michael Acosta, who was trying to walk home when Officer Jared Yuen shot him in the eye. Acosta’s eye was destroyed, and he has undergone four surgeries to remove his eye globe and reconstruct his eye socket since the attack. Mr. Acosta received $2.9 million in the settlement.

“Litigation such as this case contributed to the state legislature passing AB 48 in 2022, which greatly restricts use of impact munitions to disperse protestors, a big step in the right direction. But the new law doesn’t address all of the issues for San José. SJPD’s long history of violence, racism, and impunity was reflected in the de facto policy of indiscriminate violence against George Floyd protestors, and a striking lack of accountability for this violence that went all the way to the top,” the Center for Protest Law and Litigation’s Rachel Lederman, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, said. “We hope that this settlement will help push the city toward alternatives to policing and stronger oversight of the SJPD.” 

Prior to the settlement, the district court dismissed the claims of six people who were unable to timely identify which SJPD officer shot them with less lethal munitions.

The protestors were represented by the PCJF and its project, the Center for Protest Law & Litigation; Shook, Hardy & Bacon; Flynn Law Office; and attorney Jim Chanin. 


NAACP of San José / Silicon Valley, et al., v. City of San José, Northern District of California U.S. District Court |Case No. 4:21-cv-01705-PJH


PCJF News

San José City Council OKs $3.35 Million Settlement for Five Racial Justice Protestors Attacked by San José Police


Press Coverage

The Mercury News – San Jose approves $3.3 million settlement for George Floyd protest injuries

KTVU – San Jose to pay over $3 million for police excessive force during George Floyd protests

The Mercury News – San Jose: Federal excessive force lawsuit from George Floyd protests is greenlit for trial


Page photo credit “Police,” by G20 Voice CC BY 2.0 DEED