a win for free speech in New York - only five years late

NYPD_anti-protest_squad.jpg the NYPD at the front, fighting the First Amendment


We'll call it a win, even if the forces of reaction prevailed on the street, as they always have in this city. But silencing and intimidating an entire citizenry wasn't the only outrage: In addition to the April 7, 2003, NYPD assault on our civil rights itself, the City's years of delays in negotiating the civil settlement announced today helped to lock down protest everywhere in New York (abominably, during the 2004 GOP Convention), served to educate "law-enforcement" agencies fighting the fraudulent "war on terror" in other cities across the country, and cost taxpayers here plenty.

Go to this page on the site of the Center for Constitutional Rights for the complete press release, parts of which are excerpted here:

A group of 52 local activists today announced a $2 million settlement in their lawsuit against the City of New York. The activists were illegally arrested on April 7, 2003 while protesting against the Iraq war in front of a military contractor's offices in midtown [the Carlyle Group, known for its ties to the Bush family and its extensive portfolio of holdings in the military-defense sector]. The settlement in Kunstler et al v. New York City follows the dismissal in 2003 of all criminal charges brought against these individuals and four costly years of delays by the City in negotiating an end to the civil lawsuit.

. . . .

Attorneys and plaintiffs noted, however, that the City's decision to drag the case out is part of a long and disturbing pattern by which it attempts to "wear down" plaintiffs to avoid political damage, even at huge expense of tax dollars and City resources.

. . . .

The police tactics used that day became the model used by the NYPD during the 2004 Republican National Convention held in New York.

At that event, thousands of activists were illegally arrested, jailed and mistreated. Lawsuits related to the police conduct at the RNC are still winding their way through the courts. NYPD officials are now consulting with police departments in Denver and Minneapolis on their plans for the 2008 Democratic and Republican Conventions.



[image of riot police at March, 2005, downtown Brooklyn anti-war protest from dailyheights.com]