In the first major legal victory for those detained during Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino found photojournalist Alexander Arbuckle not guilty of disorderly conduct after a two day trial.
Arbuckle was arrested early New Year's Day around 13th Street and Fifth Avenue for allegedly blocking traffic during an OWS march. However, Arbuckle's attorneys, Paul Keefe and Gideon Oliver of the National Lawyer's Guild—New York City Chapter, used footage shot by videographer Tim Pool to show that wasn't the case. The arrests occur between the 31:00 and 35:00 marks in the video below.
Many protesters charged with disorderly conduct are offered an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal [ACD], which essentially means that they're let off the hook if they agree not to fight the charges and stay out of trouble for six months. Arbuckle, however, decided to fight it. "The video, paired with my client's testimony, swayed the judge's mind," Keefe says. "The judge found that the prosecution hadn't shown that he intended to block traffic, and even if he actually did obstruct the roadway, any blockage was too insignificant to merit an arrest."
"Hearing the verdict was a mixture of relief and vindication," Arbuckle says. "I knew I hadn't done anything wrong." Arbuckle, who will enter his senior year at NYU next year, majoring in photography and political science, said that his arresting officer "completely fabricated her testimony."
Asked if he feels his dealings with the police are typical of others who have been detained at Occupy Wall Street protests, Arbuckle says, "I can't really speak for other officers who make up stories in court, but most of [the police] seem like they try their hardest to be professional and good natured."
"This is a victory for citizen journalists and non-accredited journalists," Arbuckle adds. "The more cameras that are there the more people are held accountable for their actions."