Volume 74, Number 29 | November 24 - 30, 2004

Villager photo by Elisabeth Robert

Vietnam veteran William Steyert, a member of the War Resisters League, is a plaintiff in a class-action suit over the Republican Convention arrests.

Class-action suit filed on R.N.C. arrests and Pier 57

By Lincoln Anderson

A group of protesters and bystanders who were arrested during the Republican National Convention in late August and early September on Monday announced the filing of a class-action lawsuit against New York City, Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and numerous police officials.

The announcement was made at the Center for Constitutional Rights at 666 Broadway in Noho. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the more than 1,800 people arrested during the convention, was put together by the Affirmative Litigation Committee of the New York Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. The firm of Moore and Goodman LLP has taken the case.

Attorney Jonathan Moore said the city and N.Y.P.D. “trampled” citizens’ rights during the convention. The suit charges there were violations in three areas: unlawful arrests for peaceably exercising constitutional rights of free speech and assembly; imprisonment at an unsuitable facility — Pier 57 — where bus fluids had seeped into the floor, creating a toxic environment; and overly long incarceration.

Said Martin Stolar, N.L.G. New York Chapter president, “It’s truly unfortunate that the city sought to criminalize and demonize the people who came here to protest the R.N.C.”

A group of 10 people who had been arrested related their experiences, including in some cases being held without access to medication or being swept up during arrests though not involved with a protest.

The suit seeks damages, at this point unspecified.

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