Occupy Wall Street Librarians Suing City of New York Over Book Destruction
Posted on May 29, 2012
Occupy Wall Street and the OWS Librarians are suing New York City, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty for unconstitutionally seizing their library book during the OWS night raid in Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011.
The librarians say that the NYPD ordered the park cleared, but only gave them 45 minutes to do so. They took 3600 books from the OWS library, which were supposed to be stored and returned to the librarians. The lawsuit alleges that the librarians were stopped from gathering the books, many of which were destroyed by the city. Only 1,003 of the books were recovered, many of which were damaged beyond repair. The OWS says that the returned books "stank with mildew and food waste; some resembled accordions or wrung-out laundry."
OWS explains the impetus for the lawsuit and the damages being requested:
We cannot allow the Mayor and his commissioners to get away with these violations of law and constitutional rights. We have now filed a Federal lawsuit to demand accountability from the city and its officials, demanding both compensatory and punitive damages. We believe that the raid and its aftermath violated our First-Amendment rights to free expression, Fourth-Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure, and Fourteenth-Amendment rights to due process, as well as the laws of the City of New York regarding the vouchsafing of seized property. We are demanding compensatory damages for the lost/destroyed books and equipment, which we have estimated at at least $47,000. In addition, because we believe the seizure and destruction of the books went beyond negligence to constitute a reckless and callous indifference to our constitutional rights, we are demanding punitive damages of at least $1000.You can read the entire lawsuit here.