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Police testilying costs the Big Apple millions
July 5, 2014 1:06 PM   Subscribe

The expensive consequences of New York City’s heavy-handed approach to policing protest have been on display lately. In December, the city finally settled most of the lawsuits stemming from its mass arrest of protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention. Earlier this month, falsely arrested Occupy Wall Street protesters announced the largest settlement yet between participants and the powers that be, with the city poised to shell out nearly $600,000 in damages. NYC already paid $350,000 last year to settle a suit over its destruction of media equipment and Occupy’s library during the 2011 eviction of Zuccotti Park, $82,500 this past December to settle an Occupier’s suit claiming that police beat him up across the span of three arrests, and $50,000 the month before to settle a suit by people arrested on suspicion that they might later attend a protest.
Nick Pinto reports on the consequences for New York of the heavy handed police approach to e.g. the Occupy Wallstreet movement
posted by MartinWisse (37 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sure the impact of these lawsuits to NYPD's 5 billion dollar budget will ensure these abuses never happen again.
posted by ryanrs at 1:09 PM on July 5 [29 favorites]


$600k in settlements is probably pennies on the dollar given the value of maintaining an "open for business" reputation.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:10 PM on July 5 [7 favorites]


Tough on crime!
posted by bleep at 1:12 PM on July 5


Maybe Bloomberg should be named in some of these suits- again, he probably wouldn't even notice, but it would be nice to see some of this coming out of his pocketbook.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:18 PM on July 5


Basically, nobody here trusts the police. The fact that Bratton is in charge again and crime is actually rising is a good reason why.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:20 PM on July 5


According to the referenced link, RNC protesters cost the city $35 million. That seems like the real story, but it's from events ten years ago, so maybe the real story is that the city actually handled Occupy well since they're barely paying a million.
posted by michaelh at 1:21 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


Was there ever a discussion of what other methods the NYPD could've used to get rid of this problem? The place was rapidly deteriorating and the stench was carrying almost half a block to a full block depending on the wind. Were there different plans to get everyone out? I seem to remember some deal where they asked everyone to leave so they could clean the park, and that it was going to turn into an eviction or something.
posted by ReeMonster at 1:39 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


I wish I had something more constructive to offer than the limp recognition of the "Fucking cops, man" segment of my brain lighting up and realizing there's nothing to be done about it.
posted by adipocere at 1:48 PM on July 5 [5 favorites]


so maybe the real story is that the city actually handled Occupy well since they're barely paying a million.

My interpretation of these figures would tend more towards the "look how much they learned about getting away with it in the past 10 years" rather than the "oh they must be getting better about not violating civil liberties".
posted by elizardbits at 1:56 PM on July 5 [26 favorites]


That's mostly mine as well, elizardbits. Either way I wouldn't call it expensive.
posted by michaelh at 1:58 PM on July 5


Well, trying to put a positive face on this, the total for the RNC protests came after 10 years. Maybe we just need to give the Occupy cases time to total up the settlements.
posted by JHarris at 1:59 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


Chump change to the 1%.
posted by telstar at 2:15 PM on July 5 [3 favorites]


Wow. It only costs about $1M to abuse the shit out of Americans.

Maybe foreign and domestic terrorists should stop all that sneaky stuff and become NYPD's 'finest'. It's cost effective!
posted by hal_c_on at 2:31 PM on July 5 [3 favorites]


Remove qualified immunity and make police officers carry brutality insurance.
posted by Talez at 2:34 PM on July 5 [6 favorites]


Make sure that the video cameras can't be turned off and the video archived for minimum of 7 years or until a case is resolved (of that period exceeds 7 years).
posted by arcticseal at 2:37 PM on July 5 [6 favorites]


Yeah then they'll just "lose" or "accidentally damage" the cameras. (I live in Albuquerque, where our cops are on the cutting edge of this shit.)
posted by NoraReed at 2:49 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


Was there ever a discussion of what other methods the NYPD could've used to get rid of this problem?

Well, they could have just said: "All right, we give up, lets stop capitalism". That might have worked.
posted by empath at 2:51 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


Well, they could have just said: "All right, we give up, lets stop capitalism". That might have worked.

Or, they could have said, "Okay the First Amendment is still in force. We'll respect it."

Or, "Okay, we'll arrest a few of the white collar criminals who fucked up the country for everyone else while enriching themselves."

Every action sport now features helmet mounted video cameras. These will soon be customary for any peaceful protest.
posted by Repack Rider at 3:01 PM on July 5 [18 favorites]


Wow, if I start saving my money now, down the road I'll be able to afford a down payment on a civil liberty violation.
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:03 PM on July 5


This is a small price to pay for defending kleptocracy.
posted by benzenedream at 3:08 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


Isn't this really only for NYC residents to complain about? We who live elsewhere, and support the Occupy concept, can shake our heads, but none of us really have a say in the matter. If they want to spend their taxes that way. And FWIW, seems pretty cheap for how egregious it was.
posted by Windopaene at 3:12 PM on July 5


Everyone should complain about police abuse, even if you don't live there.
posted by ryanrs at 3:29 PM on July 5 [21 favorites]


Isn't this really only for NYC residents to complain about? We who live elsewhere, and support the Occupy concept, can shake our heads, but none of us really have a say in the matter. If they want to spend their taxes that way. And FWIW, seems pretty cheap for how egregious it was.

Most cities in the US took the same approach as New York, deliberately using police power to harass and eventually shut down the Occupy camps. Some of the costs were upfront, like overtime for the police, and others showed up a year or two later, like the lawsuits; the benefit was in keeping the business community happy, removing unsightly activists from places tourists like to visit, and removing a potential source of political opposition to elected city officials. It's not a big secret conspiracy, it's just a case where the people who benefitted didn't need to pay the direct costs, and New York was just the biggest and most emblematic example of the success of that strategy.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:37 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


$600K? Chump change. Hell, it was over 25 years ago when the Minneapolis cops gave two indian guys a ride downtown in the trunk of the squad car. That cost the taxpayers $500K, each.

If I'm not mistaken, the monthly rent in Manhattan is $4,000. $600K is a year's rent for 12 people. I bet the cops eat that in donuts.
posted by Twang at 3:58 PM on July 5 [6 favorites]


Exactly. This totally worked for "the man" is all I'm saying.which means that other than planting the #Occupy meme in the public eye, the establishment totally kicked ass. Which is disappointing. Unless the long game pays off...
posted by Windopaene at 4:44 PM on July 5


New York was just the biggest and most emblematic example of the success of that strategy.

Not even close.

Chicago's police misconduct payouts exceed 500 million in the last 10 years and is still growing every year. Where is your pension fund? There is your pension fund. (Of course the man in charge of the torture scheme gets to keep his pension because Illinois).

Fortunately they are issuing bonds to pay for it so citizens get dinged for the payout plus the interest plus diminished services and damaged credit rating. Weeeeeeeeh! They know how to make use of every part of the pig in this town.
posted by srboisvert at 4:47 PM on July 5 [5 favorites]


If I'm not mistaken, the monthly rent in Manhattan is $4,000

Not really. I mean, there are apartments here for that amount, and the cost of some apartments may drive the average up near there, but you can get a studio or 1 bedroom for less than $2000 a month almost anywhere in the city.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:03 PM on July 5


Oakland, CA "agreed to pay an Iraq War veteran $4.5 million to settle a federal lawsuit he filed after a city police officer shot him in the head with a beanbag during an Occupy protest, nearly killing him and leaving him with permanent brain damage, attorneys said Friday."

That comes on top of "The City Council announced the $1.17 million settlement Tuesday night, resolving the first of several police misconduct lawsuits Oakland faces from Occupy protests." - just a year ago.

Way to go, OPD.
posted by rtha at 5:04 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


“Prosecutors can’t make a case without police officers, so they’re caught in a bind. They’re not about to challenge police officers over perjury too frequently.”

Can't make a police state without police statements.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:33 PM on July 5 [9 favorites]


I hope that whoever is getting this money will share some of it with the victims of the estimated 5 million stop-and-frisks in NYC in the last decade, 90% of which turned up no evidence whatsoever of any crime. I mean, I'm glad the NYPD is having to pay someone for something they've done wrong. But it's pretty irritating that the city is paying out to a bunch of hippie protester kids, but they haven't been held accountable in any way for the systemic, constant mass violence they've been committing in poor communities of color basically forever.
posted by decathecting at 5:56 PM on July 5 [3 favorites]


Isn't this really only for NYC residents to complain about? We who live elsewhere, and support the Occupy concept, can shake our heads, but none of us really have a say in the matter. If they want to spend their taxes that way. And FWIW, seems pretty cheap for how egregious it was

Nah, egregious shit happened everywhere. Over in seattle they were busy pepper spraying grannies and pregnant ladies.

Unfortunately, at least as far as i know, no one sued. A lot of other really awful shit happened during the occupy protests everywhere, as far as i can tell. All i really heard about was seattle and portland stuff, but most of the shitty things didn't even really make the news and you have to dig through tumblrs and blogs to find anything at all mentioned about it.

Other than people not suing, the difference was really that they were better at covering it up, and only doing it to people who just didn't publicize what happened much.
posted by emptythought at 6:09 PM on July 5


Just the cost of doing business.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:14 PM on July 5


I'm gonna say the same thing I say every time, which is that the NYPD is a disgrace and must be completely disbanded and re-built from scratch.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:17 PM on July 5


Remove qualified immunity and make police officers carry brutality insurance.

Police officers are virtually always indemnified for this sort of thing, which makes qualified immunity all the more ridiculous, really.
posted by heisenberg at 7:40 PM on July 5


I had a chance to tour the Pier 57 site (soon to be the idiotic "SuperPier") where the RNC protesters were held in third world conditions for days (I was at those protests too, fuck NYPD). In the grim, bathroomless holding area where they kept dozens of freedom fighters under brutal conditions, amidst all the asbestos and broken glass everywhere, someone had graffitied the wall with "HE STILL SUCKS" (referring to Bush) in spray painted 2 foot high letters, and it's still there. I took some photos although we were told not to do so. Place is a shrine to The Resistance for me. It was why I pretended to care about the mall they are building there, just so I could see where my comrades were tortured.

The place will be forever known as "Guantanamo on the Hudson."
posted by spitbull at 5:52 AM on July 6 [3 favorites]


Most cities in the US took the same approach as New York, Well not Boston as after an initial 114 arrests, with most of the cases dismissed, the courts allowed them to "occupy" a small public park on the outskirts of the financial district. Boston even went so far as to provide police details and regular trash pick-ups. Until the judge allowed the eviction order and the camp was broke up by police in a 5AM raid. 46 arrests were made. I'm not sure about pending lawsuits, but the costs were estimated at $1.4 million during the "occupation".
posted by Gungho at 9:37 AM on July 6


Decathecting: "... it's pretty irritating that the city is paying out to a bunch of hippie protester kids..."

So you like being The Man? Good job quoting Him. It's obvious your hearts in the right place (or something), but that ish is not helpful.
posted by artof.mulata at 2:25 PM on July 6


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