August 19, 2008, New York, NY
– A group of 52 local activists today announced a $2 million settlement in their lawsuit against the City of New York. The activists were illegally arrested on April 7, 2003 while protesting against the Iraq war in front of a military contractor's offices in midtown. The settlement in Kunstler et al v. New York City follows the dismissal in 2003 of all criminal charges brought against these individuals and four costly years of delays by the City in negotiating an end to the civil lawsuit.
“The New York Police Department violated core constitutional rights when it arrested a group of peaceful demonstrators who were lawfully protesting against the commencement of the Iraq war and those who stood to profit from it,” notes Sarah Netburn, attorney with Emery Celli Brinkerhoff Abady LL
P, which handled the civil rights case along with the Center for Constitutional Right
s. “We are gratified by the City’s decision to compensate these individuals whose targeted arrests were without probable cause and intended to quell future protest in New York City. This lawsuit, and this settlement, vindicates our clients’ rights to assemble and speak their mind free from the fear that they will be punished for their views.”
Attorneys and plaintiffs noted, however, that the City's decision to drag the case out is part of a long and disturbing pattern by which it attempts to “wear down” plaintiffs to avoid political damage, even at huge expense of tax dollars and City resources. “My question is, why did the NYPD send over 100 police in riot gear, along with vehicles to block the street and disrupt the flow of morning rush hour traffic, all to stop a legal, peaceful protest, when there are far more important matters they could be pursuing? And, why did they fight us in court so doggedly when they knew the evidence proved that we were arrested without any police orders to leave?” asked Ahmad Shirazi, a film editor and grandfather and one of the plaintiffs in the case.--MORE--