Occupy Wall Street, a group involved in protesting against income inequality in the U.S., claimed in a complaint filed today in Manhattan federal court that the city destroyed or damaged most of the books donated to the group’s “People’s Library,” which was set up in the park.
Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street in lower Manhattan, served as headquarters of the protest until Nov. 15, when protesters who had been camping in the park were ejected by police.
Occupy Wall Street said in its complaint that after the protesters were forced to leave, city sanitation workers filled 26 trucks with property they had left behind. In addition to books, Occupy Wall Street claims, the city failed to return library furnishings, computers and other equipment.
The group is seeking at least $48,000 in damages and a court declaration that the plaintiffs’ rights under the U.S. and New York State constitutions were violated.
In addition to the city, Occupy Wall Street sued Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty.
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
Occupy Wall Street claimed that it has recovered only 1,003 of the 3,600 books that were in the temporary library in Zuccotti Park on the night of the evictions. Of those, 201 were so badly damaged that they are unusable, the group said.
Occupy Wall Street, which said it’s an unincorporated association, filed the complaint through Christine Crowther and Diego Ibanez, which it called the group’s “de facto treasurers,” and five group members connected to its Library Working Group.
The library was set up in the northeastern corner of the privately owned park, according to Occupy Wall Street. Books were kept in plastic bins and on metal shelves. More than 5,500 books had been donated to the library by Nov. 15.
Kate O’Brien Ahlers, a spokeswoman for New York City’s Law Department, said the city hasn’t been served with the complaint. She declined to comment on the suit.
The case is Occupy Wall Street v. City of New York, 12-CV-4129, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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