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$18M settlement for RNC arrests lawsuits in NYC

NEW YORK — New York City has agreed to pay $18 million to settle dozens of lawsuits filed by protesters, journalists and bystanders who said they were wrongly arrested at the 2004 Republican National Convention, lawyers said Wednesday.

The settlement, which must be approved by a federal judge, would end nearly a decade of legal wrangling over more than 1,800 arrests, mostly on charges of disorderly conduct or parading without a permit. Hundreds sued, saying they were illegally arrested by an overzealous police department.

Lawyers with the New York Civil Liberties Union had previously asked the judge hearing the class-action case to conclude that police didn’t have probable cause to make mass arrests during the convention, at which President George W. Bush was nominated for another term.

The city argued for dismissal, arguing that nearly 800,000 people demonstrated during the convention and only a small fraction of them were arrested. The convention was watched over by as many as 10,000 officers from the 35,000-member police department, the nation’s largest. They were assigned to protect the city from terrorism threats and to cope with tens of thousands of demonstrators.