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Federal judges declare cops can arbitrarily arrest hundreds of people; citizens have no freedom of assembly


Protest

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(NaturalNews) The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed an earlier decision that allowed participants in the so-called "Occupy Wall Street" movement to sue New York City police following a mass arrest on the Brooklyn Bridge four years ago.

As reported by Courthouse News, a three-judge panel ruled 2-1 to dismiss the lawsuit without so much as even a hearing on the case.

The report further stated:

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, representing the protesters for the Washington-based group Partnership for Civil Justice, said in a phone interview that the judges did not give her clients a chance to argue their case before making their "extraordinary" decision and that the protestors are "evaluating all avenues of response" for an appeal.

"I think it's a very telling ruling in the political context in America when the people of the country are crying out for police reform that the judiciary here is unwilling to hold the police accountable for the egregious violation of people's rights," the attorney told the news service.

The suit stems from the NYPD's mass arrest of more than 700 protestors who gathered on the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1, 2011. At the time police officials said that the mass gathering was a well-defined case of civil disobedience, but protestors accused officers in their class action suit that they "led the march on the bridge" so they could arrest them for disorderly conduct.

Reversal

A Nov. 30, 2011, Huffington Post report stated:

Debate continues over how much of a role the New York Police Department played in steering protesters onto the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge, with some Occupy Wall Street organizers maintaining the police deliberately corralled the group. The NYPD released its own video showing police warning protesters they would be arrested if they blocked the roadway of the bridge.

In 2012 U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff allowed protestors to take their case to discovery, Courthouse News Service said. Two years later, the majority on a three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit agreed with his decision.

U.S. Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch, in the 2014 opinion, wrote that video footage of the protest created a "Rashomon-like quality of the case." U.S. Circuit Judge Guido Calabresi agreed with Lynch, stating it was "impossible" to know "at this stage" whether cops even had probable cause to conduct the arrests.

However, U.S. Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston, in a pointed dissent, said the ruling "threatens the ability of police departments in this circuit lawfully and reasonably to police large-scale demonstrations."

Months after those decisions, refusals of a number of grand juries across the country to refuse to indict police officers for the killings of unarmed black men sparked widespread protests such as the one embodied by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

'This is a message to the people of New York'

Courthouse News reported further that, after anti-police demonstrations hampered traffic in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration "sought to rehear the case through in banc review, a rare maneuver that would have brought the appeal" to the entire 14-judge circuit.

However, the case did not make it to the 2nd Circuit panel, and now Lynch and Calabresi have reversed their earlier ruling, now finding that police officers should have qualified immunity from the lawsuit.

"They were also certainly aware that no official had expressly authorized the protesters to cross the bridge via the roadway," Lynch - speaking of the protestors - wrote for the three-judge panel. "To the contrary, the officers would have known that a police official had attempted to advise the protestors through a bullhorn that they were required to disperse."

Protestors say that only demonstrators who were in the front of the crowd actually heard the warnings, which was a claim the three-judge panel had previously said was credible.

Verheyden-Hilliard described the reversal as "extraordinary" and "shocking."

"This is a message to the people of New York that if they participate in a police-led escorted march they can be suddenly kettled, corralled and mass-arrested," she said.

Sources:

http://www.courthousenews.com

http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov

http://www.huffingtonpost.com

http://nycga.net

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