City Ordered To Pay Up In OWS Library Lawsuit

April 10, 2013 | Andy Cush

Yesterday, the City of New York agreed to pay over $365,000 to settle a lawsuit over the destruction of the Occupy Wall Street People’s Library. When the NYPD unceremoniously raided and evicted the Zuccotti Park Occupy encampment in November 2011, officers destroyed the library and many of the 5,500 books inside. As Allison Burtch put it last year, those books were “a symbol of the power of democracy, the power of the Occupy Movement and the power of meeting each others’ needs.” They were also worth about $47,000.

In addition to damages for the destroyed books, the city will also pay $186,350 in fees to Occupy’s attorneys and $133,350 to other entities that lost property in the raid.

“We had asked for damages of $47,0000 for the books and the computers, and we got $47,000,” said civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel, who represented Occupy. “More important–we would not have settled without this–is the language in the settlement. This was not just about money, it was about constitutional rights and the destruction of books.”

As the Village Voice points out, the language in the settlement to which Siegel is referring is almost comically reluctant in its repentance:

Defendants acknowledge and believe it is unfortunate that, during the course of clearing Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011, books were damaged so as to render them unusable, and additional books are unaccounted for. Defendants further acknowledge and believe it unfortunate that certain library furnishings and equipment likewise were damaged so as to render them unusable, and other library furnishings and equipment may be unaccounted for. Plaintiffs and Defendants recognize that when a person’s property is removed from the city it is important that the City exercise due care and adhere to established procedures in order to protect legal rights of the property owners.

(Photo: A. Strakey/Flickr)