Late yesterday, in a shocking and unusual move, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Second Circuit reversed its own earlier decision in the class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of approximately 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge in October 2011.
The Court has abruptly doubled back on itself to tell the people of New York that if they participate in a police-led and escorted march, peaceful and compliant with all directives from the police, they can be subject to sudden corralling and mass arrest by the NYPD without any notice that such permission to proceed has been revoked or opportunity to disperse.
This is a dangerous ruling that imperils the fundamental right to participate in peaceful free speech and assembly but the PCJF is standing firm to fight against this injustice. We need your help. Please give today and stand with PCJF in this struggle to protect free speech and the Constitution.
It is a telling ruling in the current political context. While the people of the country are crying out for police reform, the judiciary is unwilling to hold the police accountable for egregious violations of people's rights.
In August 2014, the same panel ruled 2-1 in favor of the constitutional rights of peaceful protesters, upholding a lower court ruling that had allowed the case to proceed over the NYPD's efforts to have the case dismissed.
The De Blasio administration, intentionally adopting the same path as the Bloomberg administration, sought and obtained an order for an en banc (full court) review of that decision. The Court of Appeals was to issue a schedule for those en banc proceedings, which would have allowed the Plaintiffs to be heard, when the panel suddenly reversed itself.
This is an extraordinary ruling procedurally that did not even allow the Plaintiffs to respond to the NYPD's inaccurate presentation to the Court. Moreover, the panel issued its rehearing ruling without even a motion for a panel rehearing being filed by the City, which had sought only en banc review, and again without providing Plaintiffs an opportunity to respond as would ordinarily be allowed.
We are evaluating all avenues in our fight to vindicate this constitutional deprivation for the people who suffered this great injustice. Please make as generous a donation as you can and stand with us during this critical battle. Much is at stake.
The PCJF represents and provides legal assistance to people engaged in free speech activity across the United States. The PCJF is litigating the class-action lawsuit on behalf of hundreds of Occupy protesters who were mass arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. Its Freedom of Information Act work exposed the domestic spying of the FBI and other U.S. agencies on peaceful protesters, including the Occupy movement. It litigated the successful lawsuit challenging the ban on protests on the Great Lawn of Central Park during the 2004 RNC. Its class action litigation in Washington, D.C., in which more than 1,000 persons were falsely arrested during protests, resulted in settlements totaling $22 million and major reform in police practices.