City Settles Lawsuit Over the Destruction of the Occupy Wall Street Library

Thumbnail image for OWSLibrary03.JPG
Some the library books ruined in the November 2011 police raid on Zuccotti Park.
In an agreement announced today, the City of New York will pay more than $365,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by people whose property was destroyed when the New York Police Department raided Zuccotti Park and evicted Occupy Wall Street on Nov. 15, 2011.

Occupy Wall Street had brought the suit against the city over the destruction of the People's Library, a collection of about 5,500 donated books that formed a central part of the community that sprang up for two months in the park. In the eviction, many of the books were completely destroyed, and others were so badly damaged as to be unusable. Occupy Wall Street claimed $47,000 in damages, all of which the city agreed to pay today.

On top of the damage claims, the city will also pay $186,350 in fees and costs to Occupy Wall Street's lawyers.

"Our clients are pleased," said Normal Siegel, who represented Occupy Wall Street in the suit. "We had asked for damages of $47,0000 for the books and the computers, and we got $47,000. More important--we would not have settled without this--is the language in the settlement. This was not just about money, it was about constitutional rights and the destruction of books."

While not an outright admission of blame, the language Siegel referred to does read a little like the Bloomberg administration was forced to write an essay about what it learned from the incident:

"Defendants acknowledge and believe it is unfortunate that, during the course of clearing Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011, books were damaged so as to render them unusable, and additional books are unaccounted for. Defendants further acknowledge and believe it unfortunate that certain library furnishings and equipment likewise were damaged so as to render them unusable, and other library furnishings and equipment may be unaccounted for. Plaintiffs and Defendants recognize that when a person's property is removed from the city it is important that the City exercise due care and adhere to established procedures in order to protect legal rights of the property owners."

The city also agreed to pay $75,000 for the destruction of property of Global Revolutions TV, a media outfit that was active in the park, along with $49,850 in lawyers fees and costs, as well as $8,500 to Time's Up New York, which lost bicycle generators in the raid.

Earlier in the lawsuit, the city had tried to claim that it wasn't responsible for the destruction, and attempted to bring in a third-party defendant, Brookfield Properties, which owns Zuccotti Park. Under the terms of today's settlement, Brookfield agrees to pay the city $15,666.67.

Here's a copy of the settlement:

Occupy Wall St. v. City of New York Settlement


Previous Coverage:

[npinto@villagevoice.com] [@macfathom]

Go to Runnin' Scared for all our latest news coverage.


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
108 comments
dlee4144
dlee4144

Great film, reminds me of what it was like to be there.  Actually, I was in Kiener Plaza in St Louis, but the "feel" of the film was perfect. Calm on the surface with great power just under the surface.  The power we found in each other has been spread around our community to create projects to help those who have fallen out of the middle class, or who never managed to climb into it in the first place.  If we had that money, we could use it for those projects.  I hope that's what happens in NY, and knowing the people, I would be willing to bet it will.

dregstudios
dregstudios

The Occupy raids back in 2011 were exemplary of the gross misconduct by the NYPD which is being exposed day by day.   It fits the very definition of what it is to be “American” to stand up for what you believe in.  These kids took to the streets to stand up to a Corporate America which has pillaged out Middle Class while not paying their own way through Corporate Welfare and Tax Exemptions.  In return, they were beaten, pepper sprayed and had their belongings destroyed by the guys who are paid to protect them.  Our Law Enforcement have been turned into another arm of Wall Street which you can read more about at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-privatized-police-state.html with some artwork which says “F*ck the Police!”

JPMcMahon
JPMcMahon

I'm sure that the OWS maintained a meticulous catalogue of the treasured tomes that were lost, and will be using the $47,000 dollar settlement to replace everyone of them, even the ones that were public library discards, and no longer in print. I am sure that someone somewhere is handcrafting beautiful shelves for their new home. I'm also sure the $186, 350 the lawyers received, will go toward  buying them some very nice things too. Sweet!

lizsavage
lizsavage

@naomirwolf now the fight over the money begins. Good thing the lawyer got most of it.*rolls eyes* he should put all of it back into ACLU

tweeteerror
tweeteerror

@naomirwolf What victory, will they have a wing n the rebuild 4 occupy rape zone? MIGHT WANT TO VET your champions.

Jack
Jack

Now if only the lowlife, sociopathic, bankster cabal was sent to prison.....they're the scum of the fucking earth. 

JKMahoney
JKMahoney

Shit let me get some of that money. You got OWS informants getting a pay day.

zalani
zalani

"We had asked for damages of $47,0000 for the books and the computers, and we got $47,000. More important -- we would not have settled without this -- is the language in the settlement. This was not just about money, it was about constitutional rights and the destruction of books." 

You accidentally added an extra zero in the first number, it seems?

nowayjose27
nowayjose27

>Squat illegally in a park for over a month
>Toss some books on a bench
>Call it a 'library' and get a fancy looking stamp
>Sue NYC for almost 400,000 bucks

Really, this is obnoxious. Compaired to the amount of money the city had to -pay- to clean the park after the protesters were done, not to mention the lawsuits filed for 'wrongful arrests' clogged up the court system. In addition, the damage done to the surrounding businesses was probably even more than that but... don't worry; they got their 365,000 and the taxpayers got shafted again. Way to stand up for the people.

By the way, in looking at the photo of the books that were destroyed, the 1995 copy of Larousse's: Dictionary of Science and Technology was probably a real loss. It's not like it's outdated or anything. Honestly, what a waste of time and money. If you go to a protest and decide to do something illegal, then at least be ready to accept the consequences of what you've done.

LuvLuchia
LuvLuchia

@OccupyWallSt Good 4 the library! Do u know the status of the civil suit for those of us who were wrongly arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge?

davidgraeber
davidgraeber

@melflashman tho to be honest they just figure the cost of false arrest & similar settlements into the price of illegal repression.

progressivepride
progressivepride topcommenter

@JPMcMahon You aren't suggesting that the aggrieved owners of the property recklessly vandalized and destroyed by the City of New York should not receive damages unless they replace the items lost - are you?  If so, you are holding the organization to a unique standard when it comes to settlement of civil claims for property damage.

progressivepride
progressivepride topcommenter

@JKMahoney If the city vandalized and destroyed some of your belongings, present a civil action like everyone else if you believe you're entitled to "some of that money.".

Burzghash
Burzghash

@nowayjose27 You are so, so very dumb. The best part of it - is you're entirely unaware of it, too. 

Thanks for the free entertainment.

safelibraries
safelibraries

It wasn’t a civil liberties issue. It was a garbage issue. They were lawfully asked to leave the park. They were provided with adequate time to do so. They chose to leave the park themselves but to leave the books in place. In other words, they abandoned the books as garbage.


This is a settlement. It is an effort to get rid of a nuisance suit. Had this case gone before the judge, there would have been sufficient evidence to show they were legally asked to move, that they complied with that order, but that they abandoned the books along with the other garbage strewn throughout. This was done likely hoping the books would be discarded, then they would claim a violation of their civil rights. And that’s exactly what they did.

Clever, but it’s not a win.

JPMcMahon
JPMcMahon

I didn't say that did I? Amanda Rose Henk, Michelle Lee Hardesty, Frances Mercanti-Anthony, Jamie Taylor,  and Elizabeth Fagin made a good score after losing a pile of anonymously donated books of indeterminate condition or value that were left on someone else's property. And the lawyers that made four times as much pursuing the suit, made an even better score. I hope they all enjoy their money.

progressivepride
progressivepride topcommenter

@safelibraries It's a win, as well as settlement of a civil claim.  Although you seem to have special advance insight into how a trial judge will rule on a case, you might share with us how the judge would have explained away the "right" of the city to recklessly vandalize and destroy private property, as opposed to removal and/or confiscation.

Alan8
Alan8

@safelibraries: "They were lawfully asked to leave the park."

Wrong!  The First Amendment trumps a local curfew law, you unamerican apologist for the 1%!

JPMcMahon
JPMcMahon

I think you mean Ordungspolizei, not Gestapo since the Gestapo didn't wear uniforms. If you are going to call people Nazis, at least get the terminology right.

progressivepride
progressivepride topcommenter

@JPMcMahon And I join you in the hope they enjoy their money.  As for the reasonable value of the vandalism to personal property caused by the New York City Gestapo, that was determined at settlement.  Everybody happy.

Now Trending

New York Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...