By Rady Ananda
After the New York Police Dept. arrested over 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge last Saturday, six of those arrested filed a class action lawsuit on Oct. 4, alleging constitutional violations for intentional entrapment and false arrest.
“The NYPD engaged in a premeditated, planned, scripted and calculated effort to sweep the streets of protesters and disrupt a growing protest movement in New York,” plaintiffs charged in the complaint.
“After escorting and leading a group of demonstrators and others well out, the NYPD suddenly and without warning curtailed further forward movement, blocked the ability of persons to leave the Bridge from the rear, and arrested hundreds of protestors in the absence of probable cause.”
This contradicts police statements to the media: “They were warned not to walk on the roadway — the people that walked on the pedestrian walkway, there was no issue — the ones on vehicular roadway, they chose to anyway, and they were arrested.”
However, in this video, police can be seen leading protesters onto the Brooklyn Bridge roadway.
“This was a form of entrapment, both illegal and physical,” plaintiffs asserted.
The suit describes the entire event as a charade by the cops who filmed their use of a bullhorn to warn protesters to leave the bridge. Problem is, the bullhorn was inaudible and the cops had blocked both ends of the protest line.
Plaintiffs cite case law affirming that “the Constitution requires that any ostensible command must be heard by those who are expected to be bound by it.”
Instead, the suit clarifies that “the NYPD engaged in a performance, videotaped it, and sprang their trap. They then set their PR machine into motion, distributing widely edited videos of events to spin a false narrative of events to the public and media.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg applauded the events, saying, “The police did exactly what they were supposed to do.”
Not only do such illegal arrests chill free speech, but they also invade the privacy of citizens engaged in free speech and assembly. Police collected the names, fingerprints and DNA of lawful protesters for the massive police state database. Each of those arrested can now worry their name will find its way onto the federal Terrorist Watch List, since the government considers lawful protest a form of terrorism.
Representing the entire class of those arrested, plaintiffs claim damages for violations of their 1st and 4th Amendment rights. In addition to seeking an undisclosed amount in compensatory and punitive damages, they also seek to have their arrests declared null and void and all records pertaining to the arrest sealed and expunged. If asked if ever arrested, plaintiffs demand the right to respond in the negative, given the arrest was illegal and unconstitutional.
Of note, a post on the JP Morgan Chase website confirms an unprecedented $4.6 million gift to the New York City Police Foundation, made prior to the mass arrest. The money was donated ostensibly as a “gift … to strengthen security in the Big Apple.”
Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism also questioned the donation. “While this effort to supplement taxpayer funding has a certain logic, it raises the nasty specter of favoritism, that if private funding were to become a significant part of the Police Department’s total budget, it would understandably give priority to its patrons.”
Represented by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, the suit against Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and the City of New York was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Case No: 11 CIV 6957 (Garcia, et al. vs. Bloomberg, et al.).
PCJF recently won $8.25 million for a class action settlement in a similar case. During protests in 2000 and 2002, Washington, D.C. police arrested over 1,000 people using the same trap and detain tactic.
The NY Daily News reports that Mayor Bloomberg “has suggested the city is starting to grow weary of the protesters.”
Too bad. We grow weary of Wall Street crimes and our own joblessness, homelessness and exploitation-level wages for those who do have jobs.
Hail! Hail! Karina Garcia, Marcel Cartier, Yari Osorio, Benjamin Becker, and Cassandra Regan for fighting for our inalienable right to assemble and protest.