Four New York City Councilmembers and a group of Occupy Wall Street protesters announced the filing of a big federal civil rights lawsuit (read it in full below) against the NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg. Councilmembers Letitia James, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams appeared at a press conference at City Hall this morning to announce their lawsuit, which accuses the NYPD of routinely violating First Amendment rights and using excessive force to suppress dissent. Their lawsuit calls for the creation of an "outside monitor" to police the police.
The NYPD's "unlawful conduct has been undertaken with the intention of obstructing, chilling, deterring and retaliating against (the) plaintiffs for engaging in constitutionally protected protest activity," the lawsuit alleges. Williams and Rodriguez have both tangled with the NYPD in the past year. Williams was arrested during a bizarre incident following the West-Indian Day Parade last September (three officers were subsequently disciplined) and again during a direct action protest at the Brooklyn Bridge in November. (Mark-Viverito was also arrested at that protest.)
Councilmember Rodriguez was arrested and allegedly roughed up by police on the night of the Zuccotti Park eviction. Among other things, the lawsuit alleges that city officials successfully "intervened" to get Time magazine to remove from its website a dramatic photo of Rodriguez being arrested.