Three Occupy Wall Street protesters announced today that they are suing the New York Police Department in federal court over officers’ use of pepper spray on marchers last September 24.
Two of the plaintiffs, Damien Crisp and Julie Lawler, were sprayed by Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, whose actions were documented on the widely circulated video seen above. You can read their complaints here and here.Chelsea Elliot and Jeanne Mansfield, two other protesters sprayed by Bologna while already kettled by police have already filed suit against the police and the city.
A third plaintiff, Kelly Hanlin, was sprayed by police on the same march while attempting to photograph the violent arrest of another demonstrator. Hanlin’s complaint alleges that he was pepper-sprayed “in direct retaliation for both his participation in Occupy Wall Street and for videotaping unlawful police conduct occurring in public.”
None of the three demonstrators were ever charged in relation to the events of that day.
The suits come on the heels of last week’s scathing report from the Protest and Assembly Rights Project, which documented 130 separate incidents in which the NYPD allegedly used excessive force on Occupy Wall Street protesters.
The three lawsuits filed today cite the report in arguing that police violence against protesters is widespread.
“These incidents illustrate the ways in which the police department has resorted to aggressive intimidation tactics and physically brutal tactics in order to discourage people from demonstrating here in New York,” Mark Taylor, the protesters’ lawyer, told the Voice today.
The protesters are seeking compensation and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief: Specifically, they are asking the court to require the city to develop an official policy governing police response to demonstrations. They want the courts to oversee the city’s implementation of the policy and its creation of a system to handle civilian complaints.