NEW YORK — In a major victory for free speech rights, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a ruling today denying the City of New York’s effort to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the NYPD’s mass false arrest of 700 Occupy Wall Street demonstrators on the Brooklyn Bridge in October 2011.
The class action lawsuit was filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a non-profit public interest legal organization, within days of the mass false arrest. The case Garcia, et al. v. Bloomberg, et al., 11 Civ. 6957 (JSR), was argued before the Second Circuit in April 2013.
Carl Messineo, Legal Director for the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund and attorney for the protestors, said: “This is a major victory upholding the fundamental constitutional rights of people to engage in First Amendment-protected activity in New York City without being trapped and detained, and unlawfully arrested.”
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director for the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund and attorney for the protestors, said: “The decision by the NYPD high command to illegally trap and arrest 700 peaceful protestors was a disgrace. It is one of the largest mass arrests and mass violations of civil liberties in U.S. history. This is a critical victory for justice and the right to dissent in America.”
“The NYPD command officials executed a mass false arrest. They knew they had to warn protestors, but they chose to use one tiny bullhorn for a march that stretched for blocks on end. Then, they turned and led marchers across the bridge. As the District Court found, this was an implicit invitation to follow, and, as the Second Circuit observed, protestors predictably followed them across. This ruling allows us to proceed to secure justice for their actions,” stated Carl Messineo.
Photo: Police arrest Occupy Wall Street protesters on New York’s Brooklyn Bridge October 1, 2011. Stephanie Keith/AP.