Home » Our Litigation » Occupy Wall Street – Brooklyn Bridge Mass Arrests

Occupy Wall Street – Brooklyn Bridge Mass Arrests


The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund filed the class action lawsuit over the mass trap and arrest of 700 peaceful Occupy protestors on the Brooklyn Bridge. The lawsuit prevailed in the District Court and again at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In an extraordinary step, the then-new Mayor Bill DeBlasio asked the Second Circuit to review its decision for Plaintiffs that was allowing the NYPD to be held liable for violating the constitutional rights of protestors. The Second Circuit then took the usual procedural step of vacating its opinion and reversing itself, without allowing any further argument or briefing by the Plaintiffs. There had been no change in law to warrant reversal. Mayor DeBlasio, who had campaigned as a champion of civil liberties including visiting the Occupy encampment in NYC, used the case among his first acts as Mayor to demonstrate his fealty to the NYPD by backing their mass false arrest of 700 innocent people.

Working with co-counsel Paul Hughes and the Yale Law School Supreme Court Clinic, plaintiffs filed a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States over the central question: When police permit and even escort First Amendment activity, can they suddenly mass arrest all those peacefully participating without issuing fair warning or notice that permission has been revoked? The Supreme Court denied cert, leaving in place a ruling affirming arrest in the exercise of free expression without fair warning that stands in conflict with every other circuit that has addressed the question.

Garcia et al. v. Bloomberg et al., United States District Court Southern District of New York | Case No. 1:11-cv-06957-JSR (class action)

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit |Docket No. 12‐2634‐cv

Second Amended Complaint – Garcia v. Bloomberg

Garcia v. Bloomberg et al First Opinion and Order

Plaintiffs-Appellees Brief

Petition for Panel Rehearing/Rehearing In Banc – U.S. Court of Appeals for Second Circuit

US Court of Appeals Second Circuit Ruling – Garcia v Bloomberg

Garcia v. Bloomberg Petition for a Writ of Certiorari

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Amicus Brief


Supreme Court Petition filed in Landmark Mass Protest Arrest Case

Major Free Speech Court Victory in Brooklyn Bridge Occupy Mass Arrest Class Action

NYPD Disorder Control Guidelines

Federal Judge Rules that Brooklyn Bridge Class Action Lawsuit Can Proceed

Press Coverage

An occupy protestor is held down by police on the Brooklyn Bridge.

U.S. News and World Report – Supreme Court Passes on Mass Arrests

The Supreme Court has declined to review whether it’s legal for American police to mass-arrest peaceful protesters without first giving them a warning and an opportunity to disperse. “The Supreme Court has let stand a Second Circuit ruling that poses a clear and present danger to democracy, free speech and a free press,” says Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director Partnership for Civil Justice Fund and an attorney for the protesters. “It signals all those who would join a peaceful police-escorted demonstration, or report on it, that even if they comply with all police directives they can nonetheless be arrested with no warning and be subject to years of prosecution and possibly years of imprisonment,” she says.

Protestors gather on the Brooklyn Bridge.

U.S. News and World Report – Supreme Court Considers Mass Arrests Without Warning

An important case defending the right of protesters against mass arrests may be headed for the Supreme Court. “The [lower] court, de Blasio and the NYPD are telling people that if you want to engage in peaceful First Amendment assembly, if you see a demonstration, if you join an activity that’s visibly escorted by police — even if you think you’re obeying the law — you can suddenly find yourself in jail with no notice, no warning, no opportunity to disperse,” says Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. “And who can take that risk?”

Huffington Post – Brooklyn Bridge Mass Arrest Lawsuit Can Proceed, Appeals Court Rules

Hundreds of people arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge in the early days of the Occupy Wall Street protests can proceed with their lawsuit against the police, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

Huffington Post – Occupy Wall Street Lawsuits Seek Justice For Arrests, Pepper Spray Two Years Later

As Occupy Wall Street notched its second anniversary on Tuesday, many of its supporters marked another milestone: one more day pursuing lawsuits against New York City.

Gothamist – Judge Okays OWS Class-Action Suit Over NYPD Brooklyn Bridge Arrests