Chicago Sun-Times

$6.2 million settlement for ’03 anti-war protesters

Case offers useful lessons, police chief says


choice but to settle after last year’s harshly worded federal appeals court ruling that the mass arrests were not justified.

“This case is important not only to the class members and their attorneys, but also for civil liberties, as it scores a significan­t victory for the right to demonstrat­e in Chicago,” attorneys from the People’s Law Office said in a statement.

On March 20, 2003, more than 10,000 people converged on Chicago in protest of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, marching through downtown and up Lake Shore Drive before being corralled by police.

Police allowed the anti-war demonstrat­ion without a permit to shutdownth­e Drivedurin­g the height of the evening rush, then trapped demonstrat­ors at Chicago and Michigan and arrested more than 500 of them — and detained 350 others — without giving them a notice to disperse or an opportunit­y to leave.

That, the Appeals Court ruled, was changing the rules in the middle of the game.

Commenting on the settlement Thursday, Chicago Police Supt. Garry Mccarthy said the city has learned lessons from the lawsuit that will serve it well for the G-8 and NATO summits this spring.

“If you were paying attention to the way that the Chicago Police Department handled Occupy Chicago, there were very clear warnings given,” Mccarthy said. “They were videoed so that they’re on tape, so that we can say, ‘Yes, we have issued these warnings.’ And then people received individual warnings. So we’ve certainly learned the lessons of the past as far as moving forward and what it is we need to do.”

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