After nearly a decade of legal wrangling, there is finally some justice for more than 1,800 peaceful protesters, including me, arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City. The $18 million agreement announced Wednesday is the largest protest-related civil rights settlement in American history, and an important message to police departments around the country about the constitutional rights of assembly and free speech.
Although the deal does not explicitly assign liability on the part of the New York Police Department, it nevertheless involves a payment of $10.4 million to individual plaintiffs and to 1,200 members of a class action, and a further $7.6 million in attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses.
The settlement comes 15 months after a ruling by a federal judge in September 2012, which determined that “there was no probable cause to arrest protestors” and that “an officer must have individualized probable cause to arrest an individual and that mere proximity to illegal conduct does not establish probable cause with respect to an individual.”
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