Jury: Seattle Violated Constitutional Rights of 1999 WTO Protesters

A federal jury found Tuesday that the city of Seattle violated the constitutional rights of 200 protesters who were arrested during a demonstration during the World Trade Organization meeting in 1999.

The jury found the city liable for violating the protesters' Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, but did not find a violation against their free speech rights under the First Amendment.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman had already ruled that police had made the arrests without probable cause.

Attorneys for the city said they plan to appeal the decision.

The city has already paid more than $800,000 in WTO lawsuits and settlements. Any damages from the latest decision will be set in the next phase of the trial.

The week of the arrests, about 50,000 protesters swarmed Seattle, overwhelming police and closing down the meeting. The mayor imposed a curfew and limited the downtown core to WTO delegates, police and emergency workers, store employees, residents and shoppers.

The area became known as the "no-protest zone," even though shoppers, residents and others allowed in the zone were not exempted from protesting.

The group of demonstrators were arrested when they marched within the zone, where they sat down, chanted and sang.