August 22, 2008

New York City agrees to pay protesters $2 million

An injured and bleeding anti-war protester is arrested on 56th ...

An injured and bleeding anti-war protester is arrested on 56th street in New York on April 7, 2003.
(Chip East/Reuters)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City has agreed to pay a $2 million settlement to protesters arrested during a 2003 rally against the Iraq war who said their civil rights had been violated, lawyers for both sides said on Tuesday.

The 52 plaintiffs in the lawsuit were among 94 protesters arrested on April 7, 2003, during a demonstration at the midtown Manhattan offices of the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm with holdings in the defense sector.

"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," said Sarah Netburn, a lawyer for the protesters.

In a statement, a lawyer for New York City confirmed the size of the settlement.

"This settlement was reached without any admission of liability on behalf of the city and the individual defendants," said Susan Halatyn, senior counsel in the Special Federal Litigation Division for New York City.

"Although defendants believe that they would ultimately have prevailed at a trial, the costs of going forward weighed in favor of a settlement at this time."

Two of the protesters, Eva Hageman and Sarah Kunstler, went to trial on charges of disorderly conduct and were acquitted by a jury, said a lawyer for the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought the case.

Charges against the remaining protesters were dismissed without a trial, CCR said.

The settlement, which includes attorney's fees, will be divided evenly among the plaintiffs, lawyers said.

(Reporting by Edith Honan, editing by Michelle Nichols and Cynthia Osterman)

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