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Anti-war demonstrators sue

Friday, April 11, 2003

CHICAGO -- Anti-war demonstrators arrested during a downtown Chicago protest sued the city Thursday, saying their protest had been peaceful and police violated a promise to let them march.

More than 200 people were arrested in the March 20 protest, during which some 10,000 demonstrators flooded a plaza near the city's federal courthouse before marching to the main artery running up the lakefront.

"The police made an arbitrary decision ... to pin and herd people in and say, OK, that's it, no more First Amendment for you," lawyer Janine L. Hoft said at a news conference.

The demonstrators said police had given permission for the march but then for an unspecified reason rescinded the permission.

Witnesses said police tried to contain the crowd but demonstrators repeatedly broke through their ranks, only to be stopped again as horse-mounted officers and others in riot gear headed them off.

Police would not comment on the pending lawsuits.

The suit seeks class-action status on behalf of those arrested in the demonstration. It asks for unspecified damages and legal fees, clearing of the protesters' arrest records and return of confiscated property.


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