Clarkstown to pay in suit involving surveillance of Black Lives Matter membersPosted: Updated:
Clarkstown has been ordered to pay up in a suit that involved a local Black Lives Matter member.
Pastor Everett Newton, of West Nyack, says he is feeling vindicated Wednesday now that a federal court has forced the town of Clarkstown to pay him and four other Black Lives Matter members $45,000 total.
That’s the settlement money for a 2017 lawsuit filed against Clarkstown police claiming the town's police placed the five people under illegal surveillance for holding protests in Rockland County in 2015 and 2016.
“They saw us as being a violent group of people who were probably going to burn down buildings, throw rocks at people, be disruptive,” says Newton.
Newton says Clarkstown police went so far as to allegedly place snipers on nearby roofs during their peaceful protests, and also ran members’ names through criminal databases.
Black Lives Matter attorney William Wagstaff says the case is the only one he knows of in the Hudson Valley that's fought police for First Amendment rights without being dismissed.
“To force them to settle and actually have them to pay money for the violation of people’s rights, that's a win,” says Wagstaff.
An attorney for Clarkstown admits it was forced to settle, saying the town would have won in court and adding, “The agreed to amount of $45,000, which is to be split among five individual plaintiffs and one organization inclusive of attorney's fees, reflects that it is purely a nuisance value settlement."
Newton says that's just pure propaganda.
“Righteousness never loses, no matter how deep or how good you spin it” he says.
Pastor Newton says that despite the settlement, he believes he and the other Black Lives Matter members are still being watched by the police. He says that won't stop any of them from continuing to speak out for what they believe is right.