(CN) - On the eve of a trial, Chicago has agreed to pay $6.2 million to settle a class action related to the arrests of 700 protesting the Iraq War in 2003.
Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, warned the city to avoid facing similar claims as activists prepare to protest the G8 and NATO meetings in Chicago this spring.
"Looking ahead to a spring of protests, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and his peers around the country should take note," Boghosian said. "Short-sighted attempts to extinguish free speech often come at great expense."
In an editorial for The Guardian last month, a University of Chicago political science professor criticized Emmanuel for "outlawing dissent" in advance of the spring protests, giving himself the power to deputize several federal agencies, state police forces and even private security groups against protesters.
The increasing reliance on private sector law enforcement will allow Chicago to dodge liabilities by passing them on to the taxpayer, Bernard Harcourt argued.
The National Lawyers Guild plans to cut a $15,000 check to each of the 700 arrestees, plus additional payments for those forced to give depositions.