Denver Settles Lawsuit for Wrongful Arrests of Photographers, Others

Posted by on Wednesday August 17, 2011 | Photojournalism

©Kim Sidwell--Denver police confront protestors at the 2008 Democratic National Convention

The City of Denver has agreed to pay $200,000 and change its police training procedures to settle a lawsuit over mass arrests of protesters during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The settlement was announced by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which sued the city on behalf of three photographers, a filmmaker, and four others who were observing the protests–but not participating–when they were swept up in the mass arrests on August 25, 2008.

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Denver in August, 2009, alleged that the Denver police arrested the plaintiffs without probable cause and prosecuted them for crimes they didn’t commit, violating their First and Fourth Amendment rights.

“The settlement….underscores an important lesson for the Denver police,” said ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein in a statement. “They must have individualized facts showing that each separate person they arrest was violating the law. Police violate the Constitution when they simply arrest everyone who happens to be in the area.”

The city’s crowd control policies will be improved in order to avoid similar violations of civil rights in the future, according to the ACLU.

“I’m relieved to have it come to a close,” says Denver photographer Kim Sidwell, a plaintiff in the case who was a photography student at the time of her arrest. She was acquitted of criminal charges after a three-day trial in 2008, and says, “I was shocked at how close I came to being found guilty of a crime I did not commit.”

Protestors were staging a street march from Denver’s Civic Center Park on the second day of the convention when “hundreds” were boxed in by riot police, according to the ACLU.

“Police eventually arrested nearly 100 persons, without distinguishing between those who were marching in the street without a permit and others, like our clients, who merely watched from the sidewalks, where they had a legal right to be,” said attorney John Culver in the ACLU statement. Culver was the attorney hired by the ACLU to litigate the case.

The city and the ACLU reached a settlement agreement after the presiding judge cleared the case for trial. The settlement agreement is subject to court approval. A hearing has been scheduled for October 12, and the city has declined comment on the settlement pending final court approval, according to the Denver Post.

Tags:

COMMENTS

MORE POSTS

Dotan Saguy’s Advice for Shooting Street Photography

Posted by on Friday September 2, 2016 | Photojournalism

©Dotan Saguy A former tech entrepreneur now pursuing photography as a second career, Dotan Saguy has gained notice for his project about the vitality, energy and spectacle of Venice Beach. National Geographic, ABC News, and others have published the work online, and Saguy, 46, has been invited to attend both the Missouri Photo Workshop and... More

Getty Images Awards $50,000 In Grants to Five Photojournalists

Posted by on Thursday September 1, 2016 | Awards/Contests/Grants, Photojournalism

Mary F. Calvert, Kirsten Luce, Katie Orlinsky, Sergey Ponomarev and Jonathan Torgovnik have each won a $10,000 grant from Getty Images through its annual Grants for Editorial Photography program. The program aims to  “showcase and support powerful and inspiring photojournalism projects,” says Getty Images, which announced the winners today. Ponomarev, based in Moscow, was recognized for his... More

Former National Geographic Editor Wilbur Garrett Dies at 85

Posted by on Wednesday August 17, 2016 | Obituary, Photojournalism

Wilbur “Bill” Garrett, who methodically raised the standards for photography at National Geographic and pushed for coverage of timely and sometimes controversial subjects during his tenure as editor in the 1980s, died at his home on August 13, National Geographic has reported. He was 85. Garrett began pushing for a more photojournalistic approach to Geographic... More