City Settles Lawsuit Over the Destruction of the Occupy Wall Street Library
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."
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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:
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