Some 800 people are to receive payments between $500 and $15,000 for false arrests carried out by the city of Chicago during a 2003 anti-war demonstration, according to the terms of a settlement offered by city attorneys on Thursday.
The city council could vote on the settlement as soon as June, The Chicago Tribune noted.
The settlement comes after years of litigation during which attorneys for the plaintiffs brought two class-action lawsuits that showed police allowed the demonstration to take place even without a permit, but later decided to begin making mass arrests without properly warning the crowd to disperse.
Some of the people arrested and charged spent more than two days behind bars. Over 10,000 reportedly took part in the march, and more than 500 were arrested, many for no reason at all.
Every single person arrested during the protest was later released and their charges were thrown out. A trial had been scheduled to begin later in February, but it will not go forward due to the settlement. The suit had previously been thrown out by a lower court, but the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said last year that it may proceed.
People who were charged and detained will get the bulk of the settlement payments, with individual amounts up to $15,000, while those who were arrested and not charged may get up to $8,750. People detained but not arrested or charged could get up to $500 each.
"We didn't want to have to bring this lawsuit, and we don't want to have to bring other lawsuits," Melinda Power, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told the Tribune. "And we're sorry that the people of the city of Chicago will be having to pay a lot of money because the city of Chicago falsely arrested people and then refused for nine years to settle this case, causing people to spend millions of dollars."
The settlement comes at a crucial time for Chicago, which is preparing to host the G8/NATO summit in May. Activists from all over the country plan to attend, and "Occupy Chicago" has rented out a warehouse close to the convention site.
Adbusters, a Canadian counter-culture magazine that hatched the idea for "Occupy Wall Street," said that activists would be holding a month-long "people's summit" to call for more taxes on large net worth individuals, stock trading and pollution reforms and a greater law enforcement focus on corporate crime.
"And this time around we're not going to put up with the kind of police repression that happened during the Democratic National Convention protests in Chicago, 1968 ... nor will we abide by any phony restrictions the city of Chicago may want to impose on our first amendment rights," they wrote.
"[We'll] pull off the biggest multinational occupation of a summit meeting the world has ever seen," Adbusters threatened. "And if they don’t listen ... if they ignore us like they’ve done so many times before ...we’ll flash-mob the streets, shut down stock exchanges, campuses, corporate headquarters and cities across the globe ... we’ll make the price of doing business as usual too much to bear."
Photo: Flickr user World Can't Wait.