United States

DC Settles Final Lawsuit From 2002 World Bank Protest

Four former George Washington University students and their attorneys will receive a total of $2.8 million after D.C. and U.S. officials settled the last lawsuit stemming from arrests at the 2002 protests against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Each plaintiff will receive $110,000 from D.C. and $5,000 from the U.S., the Washington Post reported. Their attorneys, including GW law professor Jonathan Turley, will receive $2.35 million.

During the September 2002 protests, police used "trap and detain" methods, in which officers surrounded and arrested large groups of people. Almost 400 people, protesters and bystanders were arrested in the protests.

According to the lawsuit, the four plaintiffs were not protesters and claimed they were unlawfully arrested and detained. RayMing Chang, a first-year GW law student at the time, was near the area observing for the National Lawyers Guild. Young Choi, Leanne Lee and Christopher Zarconi were all GW undergraduate students taking photos for The Hatchet, a GW student newspaper.

Chang said he was detained by D.C. police for 18 hours, with his hands cuffed behind his back for 13 of those hours. Choi and Lee were cuffed ankle to wrist for hours before paying a fine for their release. Zarconi was held in the fetal position for more than 12 hours.

D.C. and federal governments have made previous settlements for other related lawsuits stemming from these mass arrests: $2.2 million in 2015 and $8.25 million in 2010.

Arrests from this event were declared "null and void" from previous litigation.


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The lawsuits have pushed D.C. police and U.S. Park Police to review and reform their policies on dealing with protests. D.C. police have since abandoned "trap and detain" tactics. Park Police will issue obvious warnings and point out clear exit routes.

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