New York City will pay $2,007,000 to end a lawsuit brought by 52 people who were swept up in a mass arrest along a sidewalk during a 2003 protest against the invasion of Iraq, reports the New York Times. They were charged with blocking pedestrians, but videotapes show that at their most annoying, they might have slowed a few people carrying coffee into work. Only two people were tried; they were acquitted, and charges against the other 50 were dismissed. Of the $2 million paid to the people who were arrested, $1,057,000 is for legal fees and expenses owed to their lawyers.
The city had five lawyers handling the case over the last four years, along with a special appellate team. A conservative estimate is that the city spent $1 million on the defense, including the salaries and benefits of police officers and lawyers, before running up the white flag. Are there any lessons from the day? The city’s law department said the $2 million payout did not mean the police had done anything wrong.