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D.C. Settles With Mass Arrest Victims

Under the terms of the agreement, a high-ranking police commander must issue a warning to disperse before police can begin arresting protesters. Officers must be able to prove that individual protesters broke the law and cannot arrest people simply for protesting without a permit. All officers must have clearly displayed badge numbers. Police must also provide phones so that detainees can call attorneys, friends or family members.

Eidinger said he would use some of his cash award to promote the antiwar and anti-globalization message and some to pay for his daughter's education.

Legal experts said it was unlikely that District officials would offer similarly large awards to the 400 plaintiffs who are involved in the class-action lawsuit.

"The settlement of the larger group may run into some real money, and there may be some resistance by the government to do that," said Paul Rothstein, a Georgetown University law professor.

A year ago, the city agreed to a much smaller settlement -- $7,000 to $10,000 per person -- with three students of the Corcoran College of Art and Design who were taking pictures for a photojournalism class when they were arrested in the mass roundup.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney who helped file the class-action suit, said yesterday's cash settlement was "just a floor" for future negotiations on behalf of her clients. She also said her clients are seeking more substantive changes in police procedures and will not be satisfied until the department eliminates "contemptuous" policies that block and silence demonstrators.

Late last year, the council passed a bill, introduced by Patterson, that would prohibit police from encircling protesters unless they plan to arrest them and would limit the use of physical restraints.

It also would prohibit the deployment of officers wearing riot gear unless there was a danger of violence. Williams has not signed the bill.

Immediately after the mass arrest in Pershing Park, the mayor praised Ramsey for his handling of the protesters. For many months afterward, Ramsey rejected claims from protesters, civil liberties groups and D.C. Council members that police had violated people's rights.

One of the plaintiffs, Mindy Mancuello, 30, a physician's assistant who was caught in the protest on her way to a class, said she was disappointed that the judge praised Ramsey for acknowledging his error. She said that she was detained for 17 hours and that the handcuffs were so tight that tears streamed down her face.

"At one point, he was only going to say he was sorry we were arrested," she said. "Now, finally, he says he's sorry his department made a mistake and that we did absolutely nothing wrong."


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