Beth Delaney, a member of the Southeast Michigan Animal Rights Team (SMART), and the ACLU claimed the officers violated her free speech rights by arresting her outside Ceresnie & Offen on Dec. 15.
The suit, filed in Detroit federal court last month, also alleged the officer misused the city’s loitering ordinance to disperse, cite and arrest political activists who stand on city sidewalks to display signs and distribute literature.
The case targeted the department for enforcing a 'keep moving' approach to protesters downtown, even though city ordinance does not specify motion. In a written statement announcing the settlement, city officials said they immediately acknowledged that officers made a good-faith mistake and quickly had the case dismissed in district court.
The city attorney also met with all three shifts of the Birmingham Police Department in January for in-service trainings that covered loitering, city ordinances and the First Amendment.
"At the conclusion, the officers understood that a person may protest and exercise free speech as long as they do not block sidewalks, streets or entrances to businesses, and that constant motion or movement is not necessary," the statement read.
The city appeared to work just as fast to end the lawsuit.
"The city fully cooperated with Ms. Delaney and her counsel, and worked quickly to reach a settlement," the statement read.
The monetary damages were in response to a part of the suit that claims Delaney suffered actual harm including interference with her First Amendment rights, the chilling of her freedom of speech, the deprivation of her liberty, fear, humiliation, and embarrassment.
As part of the settlement, the city must:
- Draft a written First Amendment policy that will be distributed to all police officers.
- Review the matter with all officers at shift meetings between November 15 and December 15, 2013.
- Designate the deputy police chief as a contact person to address questions about the First Amendment policy and the treatment of protestors