All 400 D.C. Protester Arrests Wrong, Report Says

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An internal investigation into the police roundup of protesters and bystanders at a downtown Washington, D.C., park last September found that all 400 people were wrongfully arrested, the Washington Post reports. A federal police official on the scene had warned D.C. police that the arrests would be improper, said the report, which was released by court order.

The report showed major contradictions between what city officials said publicly about the Sept. 27, 2002, arrests at Pershing Park and what they knew privately about the investigative findings. In a confidential memo to Mayor Anthony A. Williams, D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey acknowledged that his assistant ordered arrests of everyone in the police-cordoned park without orderering protesters to disperse and that police had blocked people who wished to leave. That was a violation of policy, Ramsey said.

The arrests came during a tense weekend of anti-globalization and antiwar demonstrations. The incident led to a D.C. Council investigation and four lawsuits filed by people who say their civil liberties were violated.

Ramsey had refused to apologize for the incident, but he now says that he wished warnings had been properly given to the crowd and regretted it if people who committed no violations were arrested.


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