SEATAC — The city of SeaTac will no longer issue exorbitant bills for free-speech demonstrations.
An immigrant-rights group called Families Belong Together-Washington Coalition sued SeaTac in 2018 after the city sent it a $37,000 bill for public safety costs related to a protest of President Donald Trump’s separation of migrant families along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The official who issued the bill said the city code required him to charge Families Belong Together for the actual costs of the event, which drew about 10,000 people on June 30, 2018. Dozens of mothers who had been separated from their children were detained at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac at the time.
But organizers said such a policy unlawfully chilled free-speech rights under the U.S. and Washington constitutions.
A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit Tuesday after being notified that the parties had settled the case. The city agreed to erase the $37,000 bill and last week it adopted a new policy governing fees for free-speech events.
The new policy says the city will not charge more than $500 for public safety costs and that it will waive the fees entirely if organizers demonstrate that they are not able to pay. Permit processing fees will also be waived for free-speech events.
The city manager’s office did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment about the settlement.