Could justice be on the way for Occupy Wall Street protestors? Throughout the history of the movement, protestors have met with forceful removal and alleged abuse at the hands of the NYPD. Just last month, a class-action lawsuit was allowed to proceed against the NYPD for arresting protestors that marched over the Brooklyn Bridge, reports The New York Times.
Now, thanks to the help of a few law school clinics, including NYU, Harvard, and Fordham, there might be hope of bringing even more lawsuits. Researchers at the two local schools dug through newspaper reports, YouTube clips, and other archives to detail 130 pages of incidents of alleged excessive force, police surveillance, and other abuses.
Amongst the choicest of claimed abuses were the arrest of a grandmother that was knitting in a folding chair in a park and another incident in which officers allegedly yanked a protestor's broken collarbone repeatedly.
Based on the reports, complaints have been filed with the NYPD, the Department of Justice, and the United Nations. According to the Gothamist, the reports call for the following reforms:
- An appointment of an independent Inspector General for the NYPD;
- Full and impartial review of the city's response to the Occupy protests;
- Investigations and prosecutions of responsible officers; and
- New NYPD protest policing guidelines to protect against future rights violations
Setting aside these noble intentions and hopeful reforms for a moment, the organized report on alleged abuses could form the basis for another class-action lawsuit. The pending class-action only addresses the rights of the protestors arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Armed with this report, and the thousands of video clips from the protests and related arrests, there should be enough evidence to file a second class-action lawsuit that would address the rights of others, such as the Zuccotti Park protestors. Nothing gets the attention of the brass and inspires reforms like a good old-fashioned attack on the department's budget.
And whether or not you think that the hippie/hipster Occupy protestors are idiots without a cause, that doesn't change their constitutional rights. Whether a protestor represents the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, or PETA, they still have the right to protest peacefully. And if they do violate a law, they have the right to be arrested without having their face slammed into the hood of a car repeatedly.
- Consult a New York Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
- Freedom of Association and Assembly (FindLaw)
- Protest Arrests: When Free Speech Becomes Disorderly Conduct (FindLaw Blotter)
- Protestor Seeks Charges for Occupy Wall Street Assault by Officer (FindLaw's New York Criminal Law Blog)