A jury has found the city of Seattle liable for the unlawful arrests of roughly 175 protesters during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting, which attracted 50,000 activists. The demonstrators in question were arrested while sitting and singing in a “no protest” park.
New York Times:
“The key point, the lesson learned, is you cannot arrest peaceful protesters here in Seattle or anywhere else in the country,” said Kenneth Hankin, a Boeing Company employee and the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.
The trial stemmed from the arrest of Mr. Hankin and the other protesters on Dec. 1, 1999, at a downtown park, where they were sitting and singing patriotic songs. At the time, 50,000 demonstrators had swarmed into Seattle, overwhelming the police and closing down parts of the W.T.O. meeting.
The park was in a “no protest” zone established by the mayor, but officers made no effort to determine whether the protesters had other legitimate reasons to be there before making the arrests, the jury decided.
In a pretrial ruling, Judge Marsha J. Pechman of Federal District Court ruled that the city had made the arrests without probable cause. Arrest reports had not been filled out properly, Judge Pechman noted.