Wall St. Protesters May Demand Trials: Lawyer
By Tiffany Kary and Chris Dometsch – Oct 17, 2011 11:06 PM GMT+0100
Hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested for demonstrating Oct. 1 on the Brooklyn Bridge may demand trials if charges against them aren’t dropped and some demonstrators are seeking the arrest of police officers, a month into the New York protest against economic inequality.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office is considering a request to drop charges, National Lawyers Guild attorney Martin Stolar said today outside the DA’s office after a meeting. Stolar said he hopes for a response in a few days.
“We are prepared to try every single case,” said Stolar, whose organization has offered to represent the protesters. ‘For any clients who want to take the option of, ‘I’m innocent — I’m not pleading guilty,’ we’re prepared to provide them with pro bono counsel to exercise their right to go to trial.”
If the cases all are tried, they will tie up resources of New York’s courts, Stolar said. He said 765 people were arrested at the bridge. The DA’s office said it was 267 and all but 17 got desk appearance tickets.
“Every arrest that comes into the DA’s office is assessed individually, and charging decisions are based on the evidence and circumstances unique to each case and defendant,” Erin Duggan, a spokeswoman for the office, said in an e-mailed statement. The office regularly handles more than 100,000 arrests a year, according to its statistics. It has counted 499 since the protest started a month ago.
Separately, at least two protesters’ complaints against the police are being investigated, according to their lawyer, Ronald L. Kuby, who is asking for the arrest of two police deputy inspectors.
The district attorney’s official corruption unit is investigating assault accusations against Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna and Deputy Inspector Johnny Cardona, Kuby said. Bologna was involved in a pepper spray incident, and Cardona was involved in an incident on Oct. 14.
“There’s not much to investigate,” Kuby said today outside the DA’s office shortly after a meeting. “The videotape on its face makes out a case for third-degree assault. Had this been anyone other than a deputy police inspector, that person would have been arrested,”
“It’s your garden variety assault, it’s a Class A misdemeanor,” Kuby said of incident, in which his client Kaylee Dedrick, a 24-year old teacher’s aide from Albany, was pepper sprayed by Bologna.
Oct. 14 Incident
His other client, Felix Rivera Pitre, was struck by Cardona on Oct. 14, Kuby said.
“Deputy inspectors are there to make sure that patrol officers, who are younger and less experienced, don’t act like this,” Kuby said.
A police spokesman, Paul Browne, didn’t immediately reply to a message seeking comment on Stolar’s comments. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Oct. 7 that allegations against the police are under investigation by the department.
Five of the bridge protesters filed a civil rights complaint claiming police officers lured them onto the bridge’s roadway to trap and arrest them.
The protests have included an occupation of New York’s Zucotti Park and marches on the homes of individuals including JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chairman Jamie Dimon and News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch.
On Oct. 15, a Saturday-night gathering in Times Square drew at least 6,000 people. The protests have been echoed in other U.S. cities as well as London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney and Toronto.
Protesters arrested have been accused of standing or sitting in the streets, overturning trash baskets and throwing bottles. At least one was detained after he allegedly knocked over a police scooter.
The Lawyers Guild is an organization of attorneys, legal workers, law students and “jailhouse lawyers,” it says on its website. “We represent progressive political movements, using the law to protect human rights above property interests and to attain social justice,” it says.