Convention Detention

For Bloomberg, a looming showdown over civil liberties and the right to protest

At the hearing, however, lawyers from the New York Civil Liberties Union produced a videotape of one mass arrest indicating that many of those jailed that day had not actually participated in civil disobedience. The tape showed police officials arresting more than 100 people who were peacefully walking near ground zero, heeding police orders to not block the sidewalk.

Kelly also told New York magazine's Robert Kolker that the Friday night arrests at which Pincus and his friend were picked up were part of a purposeful get-tough strategy. "Kelly admits now that he was sending a message," Kolker wrote. " 'It was clear,' [Kelly] says, 'that if they succeeded on Friday night, you were going to see a lot more of this when the convention kicked in.' "

If that was the direction that top police commanders issued to their troops, then it's little wonder that soup-and-sandwich-buying bystanders like Pincus and Wipfli got swept up in the nets. Last Friday, Pincus, wearing a suit and tie, showed up in Manhattan criminal court, where he pled not guilty to two counts of disorderly conduct and one count of parading without a permit, all violations punishable by up to 15 days in jail.

"I think Bloomberg and Kelly thought there would be a lot of praise for keeping the city quiet," said civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel, who, along with Earl Ward, represented Pincus. "They'd floated the idea there was going to be all this violence, and they kept saying, 'We're prepared. Citizens can go about their business.' Well, what about this citizen?"

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