On October 1st, when Occupy Wall Street was still in its infancy, more than 700 protesters were arrested after OWS marched onto the Brooklyn Bridge. Protesters claimed that police lured them onto the roadway of the bridge—leading them there as an excuse to arrest en masse—while the NYPD maintains that they warned protesters they would be arrested for blocking the street. Now, a civil rights group has come to the aid of those arrested, petitioning Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr. to drop all the charges.
According to DNAInfo, the letter, written by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, states there was no probable cause to begin arresting protesters, who they say were escorted on to the bridge and then suddenly detained. It reads: "The entrapment/trap-and-arrest Brooklyn Bridge mass protest sweep was unlawful and unconstitutional in its entirety. The police may not truncate peaceful First Amendment-protected activity, surround a group, issue no audible orders, prohibit persons from having an avenue of exit, and then arrest the hundreds of persons caught in the trap."
A week after the arrests, protesters filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that officers violated their constitutional rights by "kettling" them. They are seeking to ban similar measures in the future, and also demanded that the arrests be expunged: "The NYPD engaged in a premeditated, planned, scripted and calculated effort to sweep the streets of protesters and disrupt a growing protest movement in New York," the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund charged.
At the time, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne argued, "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. The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund disputes this claim in part, saying the bullhorn was insufficient warning: "That bullhorn order is inaudible not only to hundreds of people subject to orders given through it, but to people just a few feet from the bullhorn," said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the PCJF.
Below, you can check out a few videos from that day of mass arrests. In the first, a group of uniformed NYPD officers can be seen leading the march onto the road. In the second, the police are several yards ahead of the group, and other NYPD officers can be seen lining the side of the road as the march continues towards Brooklyn.
The two videos below here were released by the NYPD the day after the protests. The first shows a senior officer telling the crowd, "I am ordering you to leave this roadway now, if you do so voluntarily, no charges will be placed against you. If you refuse to leave, you will be placed under arrest and charged with disorderly conduct." The second shows him announcing that all the protesters on the bridge will be arrested.