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City pays $10,000 in first amendment suit settlement

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The city of Albuquerque will shell out more than $10,000 to a man who was kicked out of a public meeting more than a year ago, under a settlement reached after he complained that his free-speech rights were violated.

Andres Valdez, a local activist, was criticizing the former chair of the Police Oversight Commission, a civilian body that reviews allegations of police misconduct, for what he said was a conflict of interest. Albuquerque police escorted Valdez out of the December 2012 meeting after he refused to cease his criticism.

Valdez sued the city in federal court. The city in its response claimed that it did not commit a constitutional violation.

Valdez, reached Saturday by phone, said negotiations for the settlement took about five hours Friday. He said that the payout should send a message to the city that First Amendment rights should not be casually tossed aside.

He declined to say how large the settlement was, except that it was more than $10,000.

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