City of New York reaches settlement in unlawful arrest suit
Areas of Focus | 2008/08/21 15:47
The City of New York agreed to pay approximately $2 million to settle a lawsuit brought by protesters who had claimed they had been illegally arrested, according to Tuesday statements made by the city's Law Department. In April 2003, city police arrested anti-war protesters while they were holding a demonstration outside the offices of military investment firm Carlyle Group, asserting that they were obstructing a sidewalk and engaging in disorderly conduct, but the protesters were later either released or acquitted of the charges. The group argued that the city violated their rights to free speech and assembly, maliciously prosecuted and falsely imprisoned them, and failed to reprimand officers who had assaulted and battered them. In agreeing to the settlement, the city admitted no wrongdoing, but in a statement from the Center for Constitutional Rights, which helped to file the claims, one protester was quoted as having said that she hoped the settlement would change city and national policy:

   We hope our victory helps convince the City to stop violating people's rights as a matter of policy and stop wasting taxpayers' money doing so... It should also serve as a reminder that Washington's illegal war in Afghanistan and Iraq is also being fought at home – against its own citizens and in the name of war profiteers like Carlyle and Halliburton. We intend to continue our resistance until this stops.

The city has come under a great deal of criticism for its handling of protesters, and in April the New York Civil Liberties Union settled its lawsuit against the New York Police Department in which the NYCLU had challenged the department's protocol for dealing with large protests. In August 2007, The US District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered the NYPD to redact and turn over hundreds of field intelligence reports containing information it had gathered through covert surveillance of organizations planning demonstrations at the 2004 Republican National Convention.  The NYCLU has also forced the NYPD to destroy hundreds of fingerprint records obtained as a result of other mass arrests of peaceful protesters.


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