Many protesters who were involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement were arrested for frivolous charges during their demonstrations. These protesters then filed suit against the city in federal court stating that their right to free speech and free assembly were violated. The Huffington Post states, “Over the course of multiple protests in New York, many Occupy supporters were arrested in situations in which the police blocked or “kettled” demonstrators and then charged them with minor violations like obstructing the sidewalk”. This is the latest and largest settlement regarding the 2012 arrests, a $583,000 settlement was reached Tuesday, June 10. Over $1 million has been spent by New York City settling Occupy lawsuits such as this.
Jennifer Peat, one of the supporters involved in the settlement states, “I hope that this settlement will lead those in power and the NYPD to better respect our First Amendment rights.” Peat will be awarded $20,000 from the settlement announced this past Tuesday. $300,000, the largest share of the settlement, will go to the firm who is representing the protestors, payouts to individual protestors range from $5,000 to $20,000. Many who were involved in the lawsuit and settlement feel that a settlement was in the best interest of all parties’ involved. Many people hope that this settlement will improve the treatment of protestors by NYPD and prevent future lawsuits for suppression of rights.
This is not the first time the control tactics of the NYPD have been questioned. New York’s previous payouts to Occupiers have included $350, 000 for protesters’ property destroyed during the Nov. 15, 2011, police raid on the Zuccotti Park encampment. The city may be forced to cough up even more money in still-pending lawsuits over the pepper-spraying of protesters”. Additionally, protesters across the country are reaching significant settlements due to harsh police responses.