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Report: City Will Settle Lawsuits With Hundreds of 2004 RNC Protesters

RNC 2004
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Jake Dobkin/Gothamist Jake Dobkin/Gothamist

Days before it cedes power to de Blasio, the Bloomberg administration has reportedly reached a settlement with hundreds of protesters who were arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City.

The settlement resolves hundreds of federal civil rights claims by protesters who claimed they were illegally arrested and then made to endure dangerous conditions while waiting to see a judge inside a temporary detention center.

The city, however, has yet to confirm the settlement. "The number of open cases has essentially not changed," the city's Law Department told us. "There are still approximately 50 open cases involving hundreds of plaintiffs."

Already, the city tells us, it "has spent approximately $16 million in attorneys’ fees and expenses."

In 2012, a federal judge ruled that the NYPD's mass arrests at the 2004 Republican National Convention were illegal, citing the NYPD's lack of individualized probable cause in arresting hundreds of protesters. Still, the NYPD has already spent thousands of dollars defending the lawsuits, and more paying settlements. This new settlement will reportedly cost the city several million dollars, according to the New York Times.

With hundreds of lawsuits and millions of dollars paid out to the wrongfully arrested, Ray Kelly told WNBC in 2007 that "the Republican National Convention was perhaps the finest hour in the history of the New York City Department." The NYCLU has not responded to our request for comment.

Spying files on protesters made by the NYPD in the run-up to and during the RNC have been kept mostly secret since 2004, with an appeals panel ruling that their disclosure “could undermine the safety of law enforcement personnel." The NYPD had infiltrated several protest groups and made arrests based on evidence they collected during these undercover operations. When pressed to release those undercover reports, the NYPD refused, with a judge ruling that 1900 pages could remain sealed.

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