ACLU, Ramsey Sheriff's office settle RNC free speech lawsuit

Bob Flecther, the former Ramsey Sheriff.

Bob Flecther, the former Ramsey Sheriff.

Right before the Republican National Convention in 2008, Ramsey County deputies raided the homes and meeting space of six people preparing to protest the event.

Officers carted away boxes of books, pamphlets, leaflets, posters, stickers, and buttons--and found themselves, along with former Sheriff Bob Fletcher, on the receiving end of an ACLU lawsuit accusing them of violating the protesters' free speech rights.

[jump] Now, the sheriff's office has agreed to settle the case by paying $27,000 to the six plaintiffs--Nathan Clough, Vincent Collora, Scott Demuth, Celia Kutz, and Alexander Lundberg. All the confiscated material will also be returned.

"We took on this case because we knew that the police raids, mass arrests, and indiscriminate collecting of information was a violation of our rights," Kutz said in a statement. "In this case Ramsey County used fear, by the way of raids and false accusations, as a tactic to intimidate people speaking up for justice. We chose to not be intimidated."

The six say they will donate their proceeds to local social justice movement organizations.

The news comes on the heels of another settlement, for $5,000, won by another RNC protester, Mick Kelly. He filed the first lawsuit resulting from police violence at the RNC after police fired on him at close range with a high-velocity marking projectile.

And it's another black eye for Fletcher, whose "terrorism briefs" growing out of the RNC debacle were judged so worthless by one terrorism expert that they've been turned into a series of eight "what not to do" posts on his personal blog called "Evaluating Intelligence Analysis in Law Enforcement."