January 16th's historic settlement awarded to protesters at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City was the largest in U.S. history - and many a WRLer was in the mix! At the press conference, Ed Hedemann of the WRL - NYC local said: "The government can place FBI agents behind every mailbox and cops behind every potted plant but we will not be intimidated by their efforts to crush dissent and muzzle opposition to its policies." The New York Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild - NYC had doggedly pursued this case, representing more than 1,600 individuals.
Another arrestee - among hundreds and hundreds detained by the NYPD that day - was Francesca Fiorentini, who was documenting the WRL contingent. Her reaction to the settlement? It's a victory but it came far too late. The damage to the rights of free speech and assembly are done, and the city has not admitted any legal wrongdoing. The settlement money shouldn't come from the city, it should come from Bloomberg and police commissioner Ray Kelly's personal wealth. As activists we have to make sure that these critical first amendment rights are never again taken away." Well said!