Over the weekend, more than 700 protesters were arrested after Occupy Wall Street 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. The NYPD maintains that they warned protesters they would be arrested for blocking the street, but now protesters are suing the city, alleging that officers violated their constitutional rights by "kettling" them.
The protesters' lawsuit seeks to ban similar measures in the future; it also demands that the arrests be expunged and requests unspecified damages. "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.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told the Times, "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. But those warnings “could not be heard mere feet away,” the suit claims.
But the protesters we spoke with painted a different picture, calling police instructions confusing and contradictory: "There were police in front of us, marching with us, and plainclothes officers were basically leading us onto the bridge, keeping a lane open for traffic," said Joshua James, who was part of the protesters' medic team. "Some of them said, 'Don't get on the road,' others were telling us to get to the side so we didn't block traffic. They all said something different."
In addition to this lawsuit, the Transit Workers Union Local 100 is planning to ask the New York State Supreme Court for a restraining order against the city and the NYPD preventing further "forced use" of Local 100's bus drivers to shuttle arrested protesters, as MTA buses were used on Saturday at the bridge.
Below, you can check out a few videos from Saturday. 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.