Saturday, February 11, 2012

How is the Occupy Movement Worse Than The NYPD - NYPD Must Pay $15 Million for Illegally Arresting 22,000

How is the Occupy Movement Worse Than The NYPD - NYPD Must Pay $15 Million for Illegally Arresting 22,000

For almost 30 years — from 1983 to 2012 — the New York Police Department went about arresting people under laws that state and federal courts had long declared unconstitutional, cuffing and booking almost 22,000 people. In 2010, federal judge Shira A. Scheindlin finally held them in contempt of court. Yesterday, she signed an order approving what is effectively their punishment: a $15 million class-action settlement that could generate individual payments of as much as $5,000.

Those arrested were forced to defend themselves in court and even served jail time for completely lawful behavior. The class action settlement also requires the city to help the courts vacate and seal all convictions stemming from the illegal arrests.

“NYPD used these void laws over the past few decades to target people based on poverty, race and sexual orientation,” said J. McGregor Smyth, an attorney from the Bronx Defenders and a lead attorney for the class. “We are happy that the city has finally taken responsibilities for these abuses, agreeing to pay meaningful damages to its victims and to stop its unconstitutional practices once and for all.”

The three unconstitutional laws under which the NYPD made the illegal arrests prohibited people from loitering to panhandle, to search for sex partners or to wait in a bus or train station. Federal and state courts struck down all three of those laws between 1983 and 1993 as violating First Amendment rights, according to The New York Times.

As NYPD officers continued illegally arresting people under the unconstitutional laws, the department made efforts to stop them. It increased communication and training, disciplined some of the officers and conducted an internal investigation, according to The New York Times. However, Judge Scheindlin found the NYPD in contempt of court because, she wrote, they were not proactive about preventing the problem.

“Nearly every measure that the city has undertaken,” she wrote, according to The New York Times, “has been at the direction of the court, the prodding of plaintiffs, and/or under threat of sanctions.”
Most of the violence committed around the Occupy movement has been by police against people exercising their first amendment rights. While some of the OWS folks have behaved badly, they have a ways to go to catch up with the NYPD and several other police departments who are acting like Russian police who have acted against protesters for freedom in Russia.