In fall 2015, a unique class-action lawsuit was filed against the City of New York for unconstitutional arrests made in 2012. Two firms, Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP and Stecklow & Thompson, are suing on behalf of over 200 people who were arrested between September 15, and September 17, 2012, while engaged in protests marking the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. The civil rights suit, which names the city of New York, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former police commissioner Raymond Kelly, and four police commanders, claims that the City has a policy of intentionally arresting people who are not engaged in criminal behavior, but who are exercising their assembly and expressive speech rights. The suit emphasizes in particular the City’s failure to properly train police officers in First Amendment policing. For relief, the plaintiffs ask for damages and an injunction that would prevent police officers from charging individuals engaged in free speech with disorderly conduct in the absence of any criminal conduct.
This post was originally published on the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal website on February 9, 2016. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.
Sacks, Katherine, "Police Suppression of Assembly and Free Speech Rights" (2016). AELJ Blog. 92.