Zombies, mindless consumerism, and a $165,000 settlement

This story has been making the Internet rounds in recent days. Here are some of the details regarding street theater that turned into arrests for possessing weapons of mass destruction:

The payout [$165,000], approved by the City Council on Friday, settles a federal lawsuit the seven filed after they were arrested and jailed for two days for dressing up like zombies in downtown Minneapolis on July 22, 2006, to protest “mindless” consumerism.

When arrested at the intersection of Hennepin Avenue and 6th Street N., most of them had thick white powder and fake blood on their faces and dark makeup around their eyes. They were walking in a stiff, lurching fashion and carrying four bags of sound equipment to amplify music from an iPod when they were arrested by police who said they were carrying equipment that simulated “weapons of mass destruction.”

However, they were never charged with any crime…

“I feel great that the city is being held accountable for the actions of their police,” said Raphi Rechitsky, 27, of Minneapolis, one of the seven zombies, who said he and his friends were performing street theater when they were arrested. He is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Minnesota.

While the actions of the police seem overblown, I’m curious to know about the street theater itself: was it comprised of all graduate students? All sociology students? How exactly were the zombies protesting “mindless consumerism”? Is this part of a research project?

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