- A Manhattan federal judge has said that the hundreds of anti-Wall Street protesters arrested on Brooklyn Bridge in New York last year cannot proceed with their claims against top city officials.
US District Judge Red Rakoff said in a written ruling on Thursday the protesters who filed a lawsuit last year cannot proceed with their claims against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Protesters can only pursue claims against individual police officers who were involved in the arrests, according to the ruling.
However, anti-Wall Street activists claimed that the mass arrests of the protesters were ordered by top city officials as part of a wide conspiracy against the occupy demonstrators.
Last October 1, thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters marched from their camps at Zuccotti Park to the Brooklyn Bridge, where they were rounded up by the New York officers. Some 700 protesters were then arrested as part of the crackdown on the widespread protests against inequality and social injustice.
The protesters then filed a lawsuit on October 4, claiming they were illegally arrested. They said that officers had tricked them into thinking their march was being accommodated and they could legally be on the bridge roadway.
"While initially, the police officers congregated at the entrance to the bridge's vehicular roadway, thus effectively blocking the demonstrators from proceeding further, the officers then turned and started walking away from the demonstrators and onto the roadway - an implicit invitation to follow," Rakoff said.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a lawyer representing the protesters, considered the ruling as "a significant victory" for the activists, as it was a "vindication for the protesters who were illegally arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge."