Three Occupy Wall Street Protesters Win $50K Settlement Over “Thought Crime” Arrest
November 9, 2012
The city has settled a lawsuit brought by three Occupy Wall Street protestors who accused the NYPD of arresting them without cause, detaining them for almost 24 hours, and forcing them through a humiliating strip search. On November 17th 2011, 20-year-old Kira Moyer-Sims was buying coffee on the Lower East Side while three friends waited in a nearby car. Suddenly 30 police officers swooped in and arrested them, and later drilled them on their relationship with the movement while they were in custody. “I felt like I had been arrested for a thought crime,” Moyer-Sims said at the time. Taxpayers will now give her $15,000 to make up for it.
According to the settlement, the city will pay $50,000 total to Moyer-Sims, Angela Richino, and Matthew Vrvilo. (It’s unclear what happened to the fourth person arrested.) All the plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit had been charged with obstructing governmental administration—charges that were later dropped by the DA’s office.
“They were arrested on the belief that they were about to go to a protest,” their attorney Vijayant Pawar tells us. “But they were not going to a protest. So either the NYPD was following them for quite some time or the NYPD just thought they looked like protestors. But they were far away from the protest when they were picked up by the NYPD Intelligence Division and arrested and held for 24 hours.”
Pawar says his clients are satisfied with the settlement, but that it doesn’t make up for the NYPD’s actions. Asked to confirm that they were in fact Occupy Wall Street protesters, Pawar argued that such classifications missed the point. “Were they with OWS?” Pawar asked. “I don’t know that you can paint someone with that brush. They had not been arrested before and have not been arrested since then. They were not going to protest that day. Were they part of the OWS movement? It’s hard to say who is.”