Federal District Court of Manhattan Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled that the police did not “sufficiently warn” the hundreds of people who marched over the Brooklyn Bridge last October before kettling and arresting them.
The uproar that ensued was whether the police had actually led the demonstrators over the bridge in order to kettle and arrest 700 of them. Judge Rakoff ruled on the side of the protestors, allowing the lawsuit to continue, but dismissed the claims against the City, Mayor Bloomberg, and Commissioner Kelly.
He also lauded protest in general.
What a huge debt this nation owes to its “troublemakers.” From Thomas Paine to Martin Luther King, Jr., they have forced us to focus on problems we would prefer to downplay or ignore. Yet it is often only with hindsight that we can distinguish those troublemakers who brought us to our senses from those who were simply troublemakers. Prudence, and respect for the constitutional rights to free speech and free association, therefore dictate that the legal system cut all non-violent protesters a fair amount of slack.
Somewhat ironically, the plaintiffs claim though the police had sound technology such as the LRAD, they did not use it, and were therefore not informed that the police weren’t leading them onto the bridge.
From Rakoff’s ruling:
“The SAC [ed: Second Amended Complaint] alleges that though the NYPD possesses sound equipment capable of projecting a message over several blocks, it did not deploy that technology in this situation and the great majority of the marchers thus could not hear the directives that the officer with the bullhorn gave shortly before officers ceased blocking the vehicular roadway. Other than the warnings issued from the bullhorn, the officers allegedly made no effort to stop marchers form entering the roadway.”