Occupy Wall Street may be long gone, but the legal fallout from the movement continues. On Tuesday, New York City agreed to pay $583,000 to 14 protesters who claimed that they were wrongfully arrested during the march on New Year’s Day 2012. According to the demonstrators’ lawsuit, cops allowed the plaintiffs and around 20 other people to peacefully walk from Zuccotti Park to the East Village just after midnight, only to suddenly box them in and announce that the protest was blocking pedestrian traffic. “The police, led by supervising officers … surrounded them with a blue wall of police, told them to disperse, and then arrested them before they possibly could,” said one of the Occupiers’ lawyers, Wylie Stecklow, in a statement.
The disorderly conduct charges against the protesters were later dismissed, leading them to conclude that they had been arrested “for expressing their views.” Gothamist reports that the case was set to go to trial until a few months ago when, during a deposition, a “senior NYPD official” who was present for the arrests found himself “unable to point out in videos of the event a single moment when any of the defendants committed any act of disorderly conduct.”
The settlement is the largest ever to be awarded to New York’s Occupy demonstrators, but it’s not the only one: Last year, the city paid $350,000 in damages for the destruction of Occupy’s library and other equipment during the eviction of Zuccotti Park. A protester who was beaten up by the NYPD was given $82,500, and three others settled for $50,000 over claims that they were arrested and strip-searched without cause.