Occupy lawsuit against cops advances

Posted: May 23, 2014

AFEDERAL JUDGE has ruled that 26 Occupy Philadelphia protesters who were rounded up near City Hall on the final night of their 2011 encampment can move forward with a lawsuit alleging that cops falsely arrested them and violated their civil rights.

But U.S. District Judge Berle Schiller tossed out part of the suit, including a charge that police used excessive force during their arrests that ended the lengthy protest on Nov. 30, 2011.

City officials had ordered the demonstrators, part of the nationwide Occupy movement protesting income inequality and other issues, out of Dilworth Plaza so that the current $50 million renovation project could begin.

During the height of the Occupy protests in Philadelphia, about 150 people reportedly were arrested for various activities, but many who contested their charges were found not guilty.

Lloyd Long, a lawyer for the Occupy plaintiffs, said last night that Schiller's ruling would allow their legal team to go ahead with discovery and question defendants, including Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, about the arrests.

Long called it "a very positive development for the case," which accuses Philadelphia police of violating the First Amendment rights of the protesters.

Tuesday's ruling comes as activists from coast to coast are suing municipalities over police handling of the Occupy protests. In Oakland, Calif., where heated clashes took place between police and Occupiers, the city has paid out more than $5.6 million.

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