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

Reprinted from Gothamist

Last fall, more than 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested after they marched onto the Brooklyn Bridge. Protesters sued the city, claiming that police lured them onto the roadway of the bridge, leading them there as an excuse to arrest en masse. The NYPD countered that they warned protesters they would be arrested for blocking the street. But yesterday, a federal judge ruled in favor of the protesters, allowing their class-action suit to proceed against the police and commanders involved—but not Mayor Bloomberg or Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled that police wrongly led protesters onto the bridge on Oct. 1st:

“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,” he wrote, adding 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.”

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said last fall, “This was not a trap. They were warned not to proceed.” The day after the protests, police released videos showing an officer with a bullhorn warning protesters that they would be arrested if they did not get off the roadway. But those warnings “could not be heard mere feet away,” the suit claims, and the judge agreed. Rakoff wrote that the police announcement at the foot of the bridge could be heard by only a small percentage of marchers, and as cops began walking up the roadway, they extended to the protesters “an implicit invitation to follow.”

You can see some of the videos from that day here. The protesters’ lawsuit also seeks to ban similar measures in the future, and demands that the arrests be expunged and requests unspecified damages. Already, many of those charges have been dismissed outright.