News & Politics

The NYPD, the RNC, and the Military Pants


As defendant Unidentified Bicycle Sergeant and an unidentified NYPD Officer pulled Mr. Duncan off the ground a few feet away, Mr. Duncan asked defendant Unidentified Bicycle Sergeant, “What did I do?” Defendant Unidentified Bicycle Sergeant responded, “You spit in my face.” Mr. Duncan responded, “I did not.”

The above passage is just one of several priceless exchanges in the lawsuit filed on Wednesday by three guys who were arrested at the 2004 Republican National Convention and say their rights were violated by Mayor Bloomberg, several NYPD officials and officers, and various other people and entities, including the Hudson River Park Trust and former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. The Park Trust is targeted because it owns Pier 57 where the arrested protesters were processed. Wolfowitz is named because he generated a Pentagon order prohibiting wearing a military uniform under certain circumstances, like when on trial. That kept Dennis Kyne, one of the people suing and a Desert Storm veteran, from wearing his uniform at his criminal trial.

The claims in the lawsuit are nothing new: that the city’s “mass arrest plans were maliciously designed and intended to punish and discourage dissent,” and that cops did not tell the truth when they swore out complaints against those who were arrested. For example, one passage reads: “Upon information and belief, [the officer] was not present within sight or sound of the location at which [the arrestee] was placed under arrest on the library plaza immediately prior to or before she was physically seized by other NYPD officers. Nevertheless, upon information and belief, [the officer] swore out an accusatory instrument charging [the arrestee] with violations and/or misdemeanors based on allegations that she personally observed her engage in unlawful conduct.”

The police department has said in the past that its officers behaved professionally and with restraint around the RNC.

Naturally, many of the claims in the lawsuit rely on the word of the protesters, so what they actually prove is up for debate. But the 125-page civil complaint tells a step-by-step story of how some of the cop-protester confrontations unfolded at sites like the New York Public Library and McSorley’s Alehouse. For folks who were on the streets on those steamy August and September days, it’s an interesting version of the stuff many of us saw.

And then there’s the trousers. In the section attacking Wolfowitz, the lawsuit recounts an exchange during Kyne’s trial in which the prosecutor objected to his wearing a military uniform. So the defense lawyer has Kyne take off his jacket. No good, says the prosecutor: “There may be former military people on the jury who may recognize his pants.”


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