New York City Sued Over Arrests

NEW YORK -- Protesters and onlookers arrested during the Republican National Convention sued New York City on Thursday and said police had violated their free-speech and other constitutional rights.

At least two suits filed in Manhattan federal court said police detained more than 1,800 people during the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 convention. They said many were not involved in illegal activity or were not even protesters. The New York Civil Liberties Union filed the suits.

The cases seek unspecified damages and a court ruling declaring that police mass-arrest tactics are unlawful so they will not be used in future demonstrations. The plaintiffs said, for example, that police trapped large groups of people on the sidewalk with mesh nets.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the NYCLU is distorting the facts concerning the arrests. He said those who insisted on breaking the law "now complain because they faced the normal consequences of unlawful conduct."

The suits were filed a day after the Manhattan district attorney's office said it would not prosecute cases against 227 protesters arrested on Aug. 31 during one of the most disputed demonstrations of the convention. Prosecutors said it would be difficult to prove that the protesters deliberately defied orders.

* EASTON, Pa. -- A former nurse admitted to his 17th on-the-job murder, telling a judge he killed a retired steelworker with an overdose of heart medication. Charles Cullen, who says he has killed as many as 40 patients during his nursing career in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, was somber, saying little as he pleaded guilty to the 1998 murder of Ottomar Schramm, 78, at Easton Hospital.

* LITTLE ROCK -- The Arkansas Supreme Court refused to remove from the November ballot a proposed amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the proposal on technical grounds, arguing that its title refers only to same-sex marriage and does not mention that civil unions would be barred as well.

* DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- Three drums filled with sodium cyanide fell off a truck, and one barrel remains missing. Authorities said beekeepers had planned to use the dangerous chemical as a pesticide and could be fined. The Ramsey County sheriff's office has declined to say how or when the kegs of sodium cyanide disappeared.

* JACKSON, Miss. -- Airport security officers destroyed a passenger's carry-on briefcase after an X-ray showed a suspicious object and the owner falsely claimed to be a law enforcement officer, officials said. No bomb was found, and the passenger was released after questioning, said Larry Rowlett, federal security director for Mississippi airports. The scare closed Jackson International Airport for an hour, and flights were delayed.

* CHICAGO -- Martin McDonagh, the operator of a trucking company, was charged with lying to federal agents about almost $20,000 in payoffs to a city official as prosecutors pushed ahead with their investigation of a scandal-ridden trucking program. The charge was filed a day after two city workers were charged with bribery and fraud for allegedly handing out city work under the program to trucking companies in exchange for payoffs and campaign money.

-- From News Services