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City of Oakland May Pay $1 Million to Protesters

The City of Oakland has agreed to pay approximately $1 million to end a lawsuit filed on behalf of 150 demonstrators alleging police misconduct in their 2010 mass arrest.

The preliminary settlement approved by a federal judge ends the class-action lawsuit filed by the National Lawyers Guild on behalf of 150 people arrested but not charged with a crime during a protest in November 2010. The protest followed the sentencing of former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle for the shooting death of Oscar Grant, which the demonstrators complained was unacceptably light.

During the demonstration, protesters said, police funneled them onto a side street, where officers surrounded them and announced they were under arrest.
“We were never given a warning or a chance to leave,” Dan Spalding, a legal observer with the National Lawyers Guild who was present at the march, said in a statement. “We were handcuffed and left sitting on the street and then in buses for a total of about eight hours without access to a bathroom. People urinated in their pants as we sat in the hot, crowded bus.”

The settlement, which was given the okay by federal judge Thelton Henderson, was announced by the Lawyer’s Guild  and still requires another round approval. It gives the court oversight of the police crowd control policy for four to seven years. That means the police department would have to consult with outside groups, including the Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union, to alter the policy on handling large crowds. The court oversaw the policy for a few years after its implementation, but the oversight had since expired.

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