Occupy Wall Street sues NYC over confiscated books

NEW YORK Thu May 24, 2012 3:02pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Occupy Wall Street filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against New York City, claiming authorities destroyed $47,000 worth of books, computers and other equipment confiscated from the protesters' encampment in lower Manhattan last fall.

Police conducted a surprise overnight raid at Zuccotti Park in November, clearing scores of protesters who had set up tents at the plaza near Wall Street and dealing a significant blow to the movement's potency.

As part of the sweep, Occupy claims, police officers seized approximately 3,600 books from the "People's Library" that had been donated to the movement. The protesters claim only 1,000 were returned, 200 of them in unusable condition - including a copy of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's autobiography.

"To this day, OWS has not been told by the City of New York what happened to the missing books and the Library furnishings and equipment," according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan federal court.

Norman Siegel, one of the lawyers representing Occupy, said other cities that conducted similar crackdowns went to court before seizing property, a step that New York chose to skip.

"This is a David vs. Goliath lawsuit," he said. "We're confident that we will prevail."

Kate O'Brien Ahlers, a spokeswoman for the city's law department, said the city was waiting to be served with a copy of the lawsuit before commenting.

The lawsuit alleges several constitutional violations, including due process and unreasonable seizure claims. It names Bloomberg, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the city's sanitation chief and unnamed workers who may have destroyed the books.

Michele Hardesty, 34, an associate professor at Hunter College in New York and one of the Occupy librarians, said the movement had carefully cataloged every book and could document each missing item.

Since the predawn sweep at Zuccotti, Occupy Wall Street has struggled to recapture the momentum of its fall campaign, when camps across the country inspired widespread protests against income inequality. The movement has faced funding problems in recent months as donations dried up.

A series of "May Day" demonstrations May 1 led to clashes with police from New York to Oakland, California, but a call for a general workers' strike failed to materialize.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Vicki Allen)

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Comments (3)
stevejc wrote:
So what they are saying is Occupy Wall Street is an entity that can be sued. Most Excellent!!

May 24, 2012 3:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
audiodeus wrote:
Who gave the US the right to sign the NDAA into law revoking 500 years of habeus corpus i.e. the removal of the right to trial for a crime in a court of law ? Sorry but destroying books is a heinous crime, doesn’t matter if it was committed by the USA or by the Nazis . This destruction of property was repeated on March 17th 2012 when garbage trucks again were loaded with thousands of books by city sanitation workers under the auspices of the NYPD – so it was no accident: it was an aimed attack on the library. Don’t bother about defending this completely indefensible act of barbarism folks.

You know the British when they attacked the colonists who founded the USA also thought they were keeping the peace. As they did when they wantonly hanged many rebellious Irish – your forefathers probably. In certain dictatorships and in the face of extreme repression the keeping of the peace is known to have been consistently perpetrated as a crime and I am afraid the ruthless crushing of the harmless Zuccotti park camp will *definitely* go down in history as one of those times. The truth about our country hurts sometimes. But just look at the situation of who is standing for what here: democracy and literacy vs. bank corruption and repression of free speech and you needn’t look farther. Serious reform is needed of our political system.

May 25, 2012 3:55am EDT  --  Report as abuse
audiodeus wrote:
Sorry but destroying books is a heinous crime, doesn’t matter if it was committed by the USA or by the Nazis so I fail to see the point of a ‘keeping the peace’ comment/tirade. This destruction of property was repeated on March 17th 2012 when garbage trucks again were loaded with books by city sanitation workers under the auspices of the NYPD – so it was no accident: it was an aimed attack on the library. Probably you are actually a cop stevejc blogging as a civilian (of course cops blog -they’re are 50,000 of them in the city!) Maybe you’re the one that threw the books in the trash – you seem to be quite zealous about defending this completely indefensible act of barbarism.

You know the British when they attacked the colonists who founded the USA also thought they were keeping the peace. As they did when they wantonly hanged many rebellious Irish – your forefathers probably. In certain dictatorships and in the face of extreme repression the keeping of the peace is known to have been consistently perpetrated as a crime and I am afraid the ruthless crushing of the harmless Zuccotti park camp will *definitely* go down in history as one of those times. The truth about our country hurts sometimes. But just look at the situation of who is standing for what here: democracy and literacy vs. bank corruption and repression of free speech and you needn’t look farther. Don’t bother to keep blogging here cops – the truth is out there. We need reform badly in the USA political system.

May 25, 2012 3:59am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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