Last week, the City of Chicago agreed to settle with the group of Iraq War protesters who were unjustly arrested in 2003 to the tune of $6.2 million. The Chicago Tribune reports that an appellate court decided last year that the 800 citizens were detained or arrested without warrant. Since then, the city and the protesters have been in arbitration to settle the case outside of the court system. Though the settlement still has to be approved by the city council, it is likely less expensive than continuing to litigate.
The decision marks a stern victory for the First Amendment as well as the Fourth, which protects against unlawful search and seizure. In the wake of the appellate decision, the City of Chicago has changed its tactics against protesters, as seen in the recent Occupy protests. Now, the police apparently give the protesters ample time to leave before they are arrested. The question for the police and the protesters alike is now, “Is that enough to guarantee the first amendment right to assemble?”