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City pays out $150K to 10 charged after monument destroyed

November 8, 2021 GMT

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) — A Virginia city is paying out $150,000 to a group of 10 people who claim their rights were violated when they were arrested in connection with the vandalism and destruction of a Confederate monument last year.

WAVY-TV reports that Portsmouth cut $15,000 checks for each last month, according to copies obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The recipients include Portsmouth Judge Brenda Spry, school board Vice-Chair LaKeesha Atkinson and Portsmouth NAACP chapter President James Boyd. They were charged with felonies after participating in a demonstration at the Portsmouth Confederate monument. Heads were ripped off some of the monument’s statues and one was pulled down, critically injuring a demonstrator.

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The charges were dropped, but attorneys argue their clients are due payment for being “improperly defamed” when there was “no credible evidence to support the charges.” The settlements were given the go-ahead in a closed-door session of Portsmouth City Council last month, Interim City Attorney Burle Stromberg said.

Michael Massie, who represented everyone except Spry, wrote in a letter that his clients’ “reputation and character … were severely damaged.” He demanded $100,000 for each and Spry’s attorney demanded $150,000.

Another $250,000 was spent to remove the damaged monument, which remains unrepaired in storage.