Today Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Wall Street Librarians filed a federal lawsuit against Mayor Bloomberg, the City, and the NYPD for compensatory and punitive damages totaling $47,000 for the roughly 3,600 books that were confiscated—nearly 2,800 of them destroyed— during the raid of Zuccotti Park on November 17. "This is an important and potentially historic lawsuit," attorney Norman Siegel, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit says. "It not only addresses the seizure and destruction of the books, but it also seeks to show why, how, and who planned the raid on Zuccotti Park."
Siegel says the information on the planning of the raid should come out in discovery, and adds that the city should have been subject to a court hearing before seizing and destroying the thousands of books that made up the library—including Bloomberg's own book. "Every other city did it before they raided encampments, but not here. The city violated the civil rights of the librarians. The Bloomberg administration had the power to do what they did, but not the right."
William Scott, one of the People's Librarians who lived in Zuccotti Park and helped maintain the collection, said the police only gave one of his fellow librarians Stephen Boyer, 45 minutes to remove 3,600 books. "And police weren't even letting anyone in and out of the park at the time. So it was an impossible task."
Police and Sanitation employees destroy property in Zuccotti Park (Screenshot)
Scott says that the Sanitation workers were "poorly supervised in their task. At around 1:45 a.m. they began loading books into the sanitation trucks with crushing mechanisms, and continued to throw books and library structures in them until flatbed trucks showed up much later." The $1,000 in punitive damages indicates that the librarians and the protesters believe that the city went beyond negligence, and had a callous disregard for their property, an assertion supported by the photos of destroyed property in the custody Sanitation Department.
You can watch a video of the raid and read a copy of the complaint below.