Kerry Sullivan, a longtime Staten Island gadfly who's awaiting a liver transplant, claims that police arrested him outside his home in August as retaliation for his outspoken criticism of Borough President James P. Molinaro. Yesterday the NYCLU filed a federal lawsuit on Sullivan's behalf, naming the City of New York and the two police officers who arrested Sullivan as defendants, and claiming they violated Sullivan’s rights under the First, Fourth and Fourteenth amendments; the New York State Constitution; and New York common law. Those are a lot of violations! But what's really outrageous is what the cops allegedly told Sullivan during the arrest.

Sullivan was arrested just days after the Staten Island Advance published his letter to the editor [pdf] criticizing Molinaro's economic development policies, particularly Molinaro’s efforts to commercially develop the Stapleton Homeport, an abandoned naval base that had been slated to become a public park. He was collared for allegedly for writing "The Jerk" on the corner of a campaign sign that Sullivan claims was posted illegally on a construction fence. According to the lawsuit, the officers who arrested him said they had been following Sullivan for several days and that he had made "enemies upstairs."

Prosecutors dropped the charges, but Sullivan said the arrest motivated him to soften his activism against Molinaro's environmental policies. "I have cancer. I don't want to be in jail with cancer," Sullivan told the Daily News yesterday. "It worked." NYCLU Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement, "It is outrageous that NYPD officers took a four-day break from protecting public safety to track and unlawfully arrest someone for opposing the borough president’s development policies. One expects this sort of thing under a totalitarian regime, not a constitutional democracy."