The city of Seattle will pay $1 million to WTO protesters who were arrested in Westlake Park seven years ago and will clear their records...
The city of Seattle will pay $1 million to WTO protesters who were arrested in Westlake Park seven years ago and will clear their records, in a settlement announced today.
The money will cover the plaintiffs’ legal fees, with the rest divided among 160 protesters, who will get roughly $3,000 to $10,000 per person, said Mike Withey, their attorney.
“We think the cash settlement does send a message that what Seattle did was wrong and we shouldn’t have been denied our constitutional rights,” said Ken Hankin, a Boeing engineer and one of the arrested protesters.
The $1 million will come from the city’s insurer, not taxpayers, Withey said. The city has already paid $800,000 to settle multiple claims involving police misconduct during the WTO protests.
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Withey said today’s announcement “closes a chapter in Seattle history” because it marks the last of the legal cases stemming from protests and arrests involving 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle.
Seattle police officers will also receive training on why the department lacked probable cause for mass arrests, Withey added.
“Nothing is going to replace the time spent in jail and the lost right to protest WTO,” Hankin added. “But I feel good about the settlement because it shows the city and the police are willing to accept some changes in their training, and we hope the police follow through and won’t do this again.”
A federal jury ruled in January that the city was liable for unlawful arrests of the protesters. The jury also determined that the arrests did not violate the protesters’ free-speech rights because they were not made as a result of a city policy.
City Attorney Tom Carr could not be reached for comment on the settlement.