The Pershing Park Protests class action finally settled! The case dealt with the Pershing Park protests of 2002. Four hundred people were arrested by the UPSS in Washington D.C. on September 27, 2002. The plaintiffs alleged the arrests were illegal.
Flashback to that date: it’s the first day of anti-globalization protests. Roughly 400 people were in Pershing Park near the White House when the USPP “kettled” them. Kettling is a police tactic whereby police surround a group of people to prevent them from disbursing, thus detaining them for arrest. In the Pershing Park case, no warnings were given.
In addition to the lack of warning and an order to disburse, not all the arrestees were actually protestors. A fair number of them were lawyers on the way to the office and nurses in D.C. for a conference. The suit states that the arrestees were held, hogtied, for several hours before being released. The Partnership for Civil Justice represented the arrestees in a number of suits. One was settled with the Metropolitan Police Department in 2009.
The class in this suit consisted of “all persons who were arrested in Pershing Park in the District of Columbia on September 27, 2002, except those have already been excluded or opted out of the proposed Pershing Park protest arrest class action settlement.”
While the USPP denied doing anything wrong, it agreed to change its tactics for future incidents. It was now give clear warnings to protestors who are breaking the law and give them time to comply with orders to cease or to disburse. The settlement also prevents police from kettling anyone in the future. Finally, each arrestee gets $5,000 for their time and trouble.
It’s nice to see this matter finally put to bed and in a way that creates meaningful changes for the future. I’m not so sure I’d be content to receive a mere $5,000 for being illegally detained and hogtied for hours, especially if I was one of the non-protesting lawyers or nurses, but it beats nothing.