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May 18th, 2005 Angela Valdez | News Stories
 

And the Beat Goes On

Latest protester settlements cost city $545,000.

     
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The city of Portland will pay $545,000 in attorneys' fees arising from two lawsuits alleging police misconduct during protests in 2002 and 2003.

Finalized this week, that settlement comes on top of the $300,000 paid to protesters last December, pushing the total protest bill toward $1 million.

The 12 protesters' attorneys are happy with the cash (50 percent will go to the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center) but disappointed by what's left out of the deal.

Alan Graf, one of the attorneys, says city negotiators refused to include any commitment to alter police procedure during protests. Graf says this week's settlement originally included policy changes, but the opposing sides couldn't agree on what those changes should be.

The city attorney's office says police and city officials are nonetheless drafting a crowd-control policy to be adopted by the Police Bureau in the coming months.

None of the officers cited in the lawsuits has been disciplined, according to Graf. In fact, several have been promoted, including Mark Kruger and Todd Wyatt (WW, "Good Cop, Bad Cop,'' Feb. 23, 2005), both of whom made lieutenant.

Many of the alleged abuses were caught on tape or reported by observers, including city employees. When police used pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd at an August 2002 protest during a visit by President Bush, an infant and a KPTV photojournalist were among those caught in the burning mist.

At a March 2003 demonstration protesting the start of the Iraq war, video footage shows officers, including Kruger, squirting pepper spray directly into the faces of apparently peaceful protesters.

 
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