The protesters can pursue claims against individual police officers, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan ruled.
“Plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged that the violations in this case resulted from a policy that Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Kelly or the city implemented, executed or tolerated,” Rakoff said in today’s order.
The protesters sued in October 2011, claiming the arrests violated their rights under the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The plaintiffs, in a revised complaint filed in December, said thousands of demonstrators marched from Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan to the Brooklyn Bridge to support the Occupy Wall Street movement, which opposes economic inequality in the U.S. After 700 marchers entered the bridge’s vehicle roadway, the officers restricted their movement and arrested them, according to the complaint.
“The allegations of the second amended complaint, if true, establish that the officers did not give fair warning to the overwhelming majority of the 700 demonstrators who were arrested in this case,” Rakoff wrote.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a lawyer for the protesters, said in an e-mail that today’s ruling was “a major victory for the 700 people subjected to false arrest by the NYPD.”
“Scores of NYPD officers are potentially liable to hundreds who were mass arrested in a peaceful protest,” she said.
Arthur Larkin, a senior counsel for the New York City Law Department, said in an e-mailed statement that the city was pleased the judge found Bloomberg and Kelly weren’t liable.
“We are considering all legal options, including appeal, concerning the remainder of the decision,” Larkin said.
The mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.
The case is Garcia v. Bloomberg, 11-06957, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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