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Class-action lawsuit dismissed against Cincinnati George Floyd protesters

Posted at 1:32 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 13:35:21-05

CINCINNATI — A class-action lawsuit aimed at recuperating property damage incurred during last summer's protests for social justice and police reform will not go forward.

In a notice filed Jan. 11, attorney for Court Street Executive Suites, LLC, William H. Blessing, dismissed his client's complaint against 90 individuals who were arrested between May 29 and June 1, 2020, in connection to demonstrations protesting the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Blessing told WCPO in an email Friday afternoon that the dismissal was filed at the direction of the client and did not offer any further comment.

Blessing's firm filed the suit in October on behalf of properties in "downtown Cincinnati, Over-the-Rhine, West End, Clifton Heights, University Heights, and Fairview" that were "broken into, looted, vandalized, damaged, defaced, or destroyed."

The suit sought judicial and punitive damages, arguing that the defendants "engaged in a malicious combination, conspiracy, and concerted behavior to perpetrate, promote, ratify, and execute the riotous conduct."

A June analysis by Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) estimated the protests resulted in more than $275,000 in property damage and impacted about 80 businesses.

At the time the suit was filed, Howard Froerlicher -- the first of the 90 defendants named in the suit -- said the protests were not about destruction but were instead about peace.

"It was about George Floyd, Colin Kaepernick taking a knee, everyone having equality," he told WCPO in October.

According to a WCPO analysis of arrest records, the vast majority of the people arrested on those nights were charged with "misconduct at an emergency," a misdemeanor offense applied to anyone found outside after a citywide curfew went into effect.

Previous reporting by WCPO 9 News reporter Jake Ryle and real-time editor Sarah Walsh contributed to this story.