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Oakland, Alameda County settle with police protesters for $1M

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POSTED June 24, 2013 9:30 p.m.

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The city of Oakland and Alameda County have agreed to pay a total $1.025 million to about 150 people arrested in 2010 while protesting the sentencing of a white transit officer in the killing of an unarmed black man, attorneys and officials said Monday.

City Council members voted to approve a settlement of $850,000, Oakland city attorney's spokesman Alex Katz said. He said the city declined further comment. The county will pay $175,000 under the deal that received preliminary approval from a federal judge earlier this month and must receive final approval at a hearing in September.

The arrests at the November 2010 rally came after Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle received a two-year prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter in the killing of Oscar Grant on a train platform, a shooting that drew widespread protest and national attention and is the subject of a newly released feature film.

In the class-action lawsuit, protesters said they were arrested before being given a chance to disperse in violation of police policy, and kept in holding cells without formal booking for up to 24 hours.

"We brought the lawsuit in order to protect the constitutional right to dissent in Oakland," said Rachel Lederman, lead attorney in the case for the National Lawyers guild.

The four named plaintiffs in the case will receive $9,000 under the settlement, Lederman said. Others in the class action suit can apply to receive about $4,500 apiece. The attorneys will receive $300,000.

But Lederman said a bigger victory for protesters is reaffirmation of the crowd control policy of the Oakland Police Department, and a settlement provision allowing for court enforcement of the policy for seven years.

"What they were concerned about was not so much about getting money, but to stop this kind of conduct," Lederman said.

 

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