Four people arrested at an anti-war march during the 2004 Republican National Convention have been awarded $185,000 in the first trial stemming from lawsuits over protest arrests surrounding the GOP gathering.
Coming about six months after the city reached an $18 million settlement with about 1,800 other RNC protesters, Wednesday’s federal jury verdict caps a lingering chapter in the legal saga that followed the arrests, nearly all of which ended with cases dismissed or defendants acquitted.
The four plaintiffs in the trial had rejected the settlement. Jurors awarded each $40,000 in compensatory damages for being wrongfully arrested, more than what individual protesters got in the settlement, plus $25,000 in punitive damages against police Deputy Chief Thomas Monahan, who led the response to the march.
City lawyers said they were disappointed.
“The officers were faced with a very difficult policing situation and only made arrests once they realized that such a large and unpermitted march could not proceed safely,” Peter Farrell, a city attorney, said in a statement.
The president of Monahan’s union, the NYPD Captains Endowment Association, said it “is misguided and sends a chilling message to police commanders.”
The arrests unfolded at various points during the convention. But the trial concerned only an Aug. 31, 2004, march against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A judge found in 2012 that more than 225 marchers were arrested without probable cause, so jurors weighed only how much to award the four.