Eighteen Occupy Oakland demonstrators filed a civil claim against the city Friday, charging that they were unlawfully arrested outside the YMCA during a major January protest.

The claim is the first step in filing a class-action lawsuit against the city on behalf of the 400 demonstrators, and several journalists, arrested outside the YMCA on Jan. 28 -- the day Occupiers tried unsuccessfully to take over the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center and later vandalized City Hall.

Protesters have said that police cordoned them outside the fitness center on the 2300 block of Broadway and would not let them disperse.

"These people were arrested without any reason," said attorney Yolanda Huang, who is representing the claimants. "When police don't know what to do with people exercising their constitutional rights, the answer is not to arrest them all."



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