Judge: OWS Protesters Wrongfully Arrested On Brooklyn Bridge

In late September 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement was just a few weeks old. Waves of locally organized protests were unfurling across the country, and New York City was the movement’s emotional epicenter. Full of momentum and support from around the country, thousands gathered for yet another march in the Big Apple, this time focused on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Within minutes of setting foot on the bridge, and much to the surprise of the protesters, New York police officers began arresting participants en masse and without clear indication of the charges. When it was all done, over 700 protesters were in handcuffs. The incident sparked international outcry, and only served to spark more marches and protests around the world.

Now, a federal judge has ruled that the officers at the head of the march failed to sufficiently warn the Occupy Wall Street protesters that walking on the roadway would result in arrest and opened the path for a massive class action lawsuit against the NYPD. New York’s “finest” have been accused of wrongful arrests and unnecessary violence multiple times as the movement grew.

“A reasonable officer in the noisy environment defendants occupied would have known that a single bull horn could not reasonably communicate a message to 700 demonstrators,” wrote Jed S Rakoff of the federal district court in Manhattan, in his decision. Rakoff added that protesters “might infer permission to enter the vehicular roadway from the fact that officers, without offering further warnings, proceeded ahead of and alongside plaintiffs onto that roadway”.

Video shot by marchers was a huge factor in Rakoff’s decision, and reinforced protesters allegations that the police had led them onto the roadway, indicating that it was fine for the people to follow. Police maintained that the demonstrators were sufficiently informed that walking on the area intended for vehicles would result in detention, but even their own video footage did not support this claim.

According to The Guardian, the decision clears the way for a class-action lawsuit accusing police officers and officials involved in the arrests of violating the protesters’ constitutional rights by leading them into a trap. The lawsuit calls for all arrest records stemming from the incident to be cleared, an injunction to end the police practice of trapping and detaining demonstrators, and damages to be awarded to those who were arrested.

Related Reading:

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Wall Street Wage Gap Gives Women Yet Another Reason To Occupy

Occupy Wall Street Protests Embody Values Of The Real Boston Tea Party

Image via nick gulotta/Flickr


Jennifer T.
Jennifer T.5 years ago

Since the events of that day solidified the Occupy Movement, created awareness among the masses, and generally furthered the cause...can we say THANK YOU NYPD!!! Funny how the bigger picture isn't clear until you step back and get perspective. I appreciate your sacrifices Occupy

Stanley Balgobin
Stanley R5 years ago

OCCUPY OCCUPY OCCUPY before the Corporate bastards screw the working poor to the cross. The governmment is complicit in the denial of citizens rights, we need to have our voices and feelings heard. Remove the bums. We need to protest the inequality in our economic system, vulture Capitalsim with the Parasite CEO, Banking, Corporate vampires have us hunmgry, homeless, fighting to survive. Kick the T-Party neo-con ultra right wing back to the gutters they crawled out from now.

Don H.
Don H5 years ago

The Brooklyn Bridge incident was an egregious over reach by the NYPD, no question about that.

But far more frightening was the nationwide coordinated attack by police forces on the Occupy movement. The Wall Street criminals wanted Occupy shut up so police were mobilized to carry this off, nation wide.

If the American people were aware of the scope of the crimes by Wall Street they would be in the street with Occupy.

Under no circumstances can "the people" be allowed to know the truth or be made aware that these fraudsters profited by destroying the world economy. The media is full of smoke and mirrors to prevent the people from finding out the actual..................NEWS.

Wake up, people, it's later than you think.

"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown5 years ago

Nyack-Take another green star out of petty cash!

Charles P.
Charles P5 years ago

Thnak you Your Honor. The police acted like jack-boots last year. Given the opportunity they will act liek jack-boots this year. A good court decision such as this, followed by a huge class action lawsuit just might teach them to leave well enough alone.

Kelly R5 years ago

At least the judge has grey matter and used it. While the NYPD has what i do not know. Maybe a bunch of bullies

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

The Right to non violent protest is in the Constitution.

Julie D.
Julie D5 years ago

I am so thankful for and grateful to all of the people who have participated in the OWS Movement! Kudo's to this judge!

Carl Oerke
Carl O5 years ago

The judge is right. The arrests were wrongful. The protestors were exerising their rights of assembly, peaceful protest and freedom of speech. They may have been guilty of impeding traffic. However, the arrests of over 700 people and the resulting violence were excessive at best.

Julia W.
Julia W5 years ago

Proper decision