MINNEAPOLIS - The City of Minneapolis has agreed to pay $165,000 to settle a free speech lawsuit.
In 2006, seven people dressed up as zombies and blared music while lurching through downtown streets in an anti-consumerism protest.
Minneapolis police arrested the seven protestors believing they were carrying simulated weapons of mass destruction. Officers were so worried about the wires and electronics in the four backpacks the zombies were wearing, they called in a member of the bomb squad to investigate the threat.
The seven protestors spent two days in jail before they were released without being formally charged.
The "simulated weapons" in the zombies' backpacks were, in fact, amplification equipment attached iPods they wore to broadcast their music.
The group contacted an attorney who filed a lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Police Department and the County of Hennpin. The seven zombies each asked for $50,000 in damages because they believed their constitutionally protected right of free speech was violated.
A judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2008 saying officers had probable cause to arrest the protestors. However, a higher court reinstated the suit upon appeal.
Rather than take their chances in court, the City of Minneapolis settled out of court.
"We believe the police acted reasonably, but you never know what a jury is going to do with a case," said Susan Segal, city attorney for Minneapolis.
One of the protestors, who considers their zombie march to be a performance art, feels vindicated by the settlement.
"I feel great that the city is being held accountable for the actions of their police," said Raphi Rechitsky.
The seven anti-consumerism protestors and their lawyer will now split the $165,000 settlement. With that amount of money the zombies, ironically, could buy themselves a lots of brains.
Copyright 2010 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Latest News Stories
Now Elian Gonzalez studies engineering at a military school in Cuba and appears to be emerging as a new spokesman for the Cuban government.