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Saint Paul officials settle lawsuit for violated rights of anti-war organizer

by staff |
February 6, 2009
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St. Paul, MN - At a press conference here, Feb. 6, Meredith Aby of the Anti-War Committee announced that the City of Saint Paul is spending $5000 to resolve a lawsuit that was filed by attorneys representing Mick Kelly. Kelly, an organizer for the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, was arrested outside the Xcel Center June 5, 2008 while passing out leaflets at the Obama rally. He was promoting the Sept. 1 anti-war march at the Republican National Convention. Police placed him under arrest, then he was searched, put in a squad car and taken to the old police headquarters where he was cited for soliciting and peddling.

The suit named Saint Paul Mayor Coleman, members of the city council, the chief of police and the officers involved in the arrest. Kelly was represented by attorneys Ted Dooley, Gena Berglund and Peter Nickitas of the National Lawyer Guild.

Aby stated at the press conference, “This settlement is the first of many. The city of Saint Paul will be held accountable for violating the right to dissent last summer and fall. The Anti-War Committee stands in solidarity with all of these lawsuits - including Mr. Kelly’s - because it is imperative for us to take a stand and fight for our right to protest.”

Aby continued, “Now that the Republicans have left, we still have wars to oppose and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan need us to continue to pressure our government to bring the troops home now. We can only do that if we defend our right to flyer, organize, march and protest. We encourage all protesters who feel their rights to speech and safety were violated during the convention to sue the city of Saint Paul.”

Mick Kelly said, “The city of Saint Paul violated my right to speak out against the war and now they are being made to pay for it. My arrest was a part of a larger effort on part of the city and others in authority to suppress the right to dissent at the Republican National Convention. That pattern is continuing with the ongoing prosecution of RNC protesters, and I join those who call for all charges to be dropped immediately.”

Attorney Ted Dooly stated, “This is a victory. While the city admits no wrongdoing in Mick Kelly’s case, the fact they are willing to spend $5000 to settle speaks louder than words. The right to speak out and protest against war and injustice was trampled on at the RNC. The settlement with Mick Kelly is just start of consequences for the city of Saint Paul.”

Kelly is continuing to move forward with another lawsuit. Kelly was shot at close range and injured by police with a rubber bullet-like projectile at a demonstration organized by the Anti-War Committee on the fourth day of the RNC, Sept. 4, 2008.