SEATTLE — The city has agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a lawsuit by protesters who say they were illegally arrested during the 1999 World Trade Organization demonstrations, but plaintiffs won't get an apology.
The lawsuit, which stemmed from the arrests of 157 people, had been scheduled to go to trial Tuesday. The city did not admit liability in Friday's settlement.
"I think the clients set out to make a point with the case, and the point was they were arrested illegally," said Steve Berman, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. "No one was trying to get rich out of this."
The city maintained that protesters were arrested only after they failed to disperse, but last month, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled Seattle police had no probable cause to arrest them.
Pechman's ruling vindicated protesters' claim that they were illegally rounded up and detained, Berman said, and the $250,000 was "enough to be some kind of deterrent."
The city had been trying to settle since the ruling, City Atty. Tom Carr said.
"We had potential liability, and we paid less than $2,000 per person and ended the risk that the city would face substantial exposure," Carr said.
Thousands of activists marched in Seattle, disrupting the WTO opening ceremonies in 1999. The meetings ended with little accomplished in trade talks and five days of riots that tarnished the city's image and caused $3 million in damage.
The violence led to about 600 arrests and accusations that police overreacted. Seattle's police chief at the time, Norm Stamper, later resigned.
Some officers ran out of tear gas and pepper spray while trying to disperse the crowds. Many officers spent long stretches without food, water or rest. Two hundred National Guard troops and 600 state troopers were enlisted to restore order.