A federal magistrate will hold a final approval hearing in San Francisco on April 1 on a proposed $1.36 million settlement by the city of Oakland with 360 Occupy Oakland protesters who claim they were unfairly arrested and detained in inhumane conditions in 2012.
U.S. Magistrate Nathanael Cousins gave preliminary approval to the settlement in a Jan. 5 order.
Cousins also certified a lawsuit originally filed by eight protesters as a class action on behalf of the full group of 360 people arrested by Oakland police as they marched past the Downtown Oakland YMCA on Broadway on Jan. 28, 2012.
The lawsuit alleged the protesters’ civil rights were violated because they were corralled and hemmed in by police in front of the YMCA without being given a chance to disperse and were forced to sit or stand on the street or held on buses for hours.
The protesters also alleged they were then inhumanely held in jails in Dublin and Oakland for 12 to 85 hours without adequate heat, food, access to toilet facilities or places to sit or sleep.
The arrestees were never charged with a crime, Cousins said in the Jan. 5 order.
The planned settlement would give each arrestee a payment of $2,600. The eight people who filed the lawsuit would each receive an additional $9,000. Their lawyers are tentatively due to receive $350,000, subject to final approval by Cousins.
The class members’ arrest records would also be sealed and destroyed under the agreement.
Dan Siegel, the lead attorney in the case, said, “It’s a good and fair settlement.”
Siegel said he hoped this settlement and a settlement in a related case “will convince the city of Oakland to modify its approaches to dealing with peaceful protests.”
Newly inaugurated Mayor Libby Schaaf, who took office on Jan. 5, said, “It is unfortunate that Occupy Oakland has wasted so much city money. I am committed to never seeing this level of liability again.”
Schaaf also said, “I do hope people see that the city has done a lot of training and clarifying of policy for police control of demonstrations.”
Schaaf noted there have been no incidents “that could lead to this type of liability” in this month or in December.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News