Occupy Wall Street Librarians Settle With New York City
MANHATTAN (CN) - Destroying nearly 3,000 books from "The People's Library" in a raid on Occupy Wall Street will cost New York City $47,000 plus attorney's fees.
The New York City Police Department dismantled the encampment at Zuccotti Park, a so-called "privately owned public park," which Occupy Wall Street claimed as the headquarters of its movement.
Police ordered protesters to leave the park on Nov. 15, 2011, claiming it needed to be cleaned.
Sanitation workers filled 26 trucks with books, computers, shelves, furniture and other equipment before the activists had a chance to take them away, protesters claim.
The next day, two Occupy librarians, Elizabeth Fagin and Michelle Lee Hardesty, went to a Midtown sanitation garage to retrieve their stuff and were told to return at the end of the week.
Only one-third of more than 3,600 books were recovered, and more than 200 of those were unusable, they said.
Occupy Wall Street and five of its librarians then sued New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty. The case was settled on Tuesday.
The city refers to the destruction of the books in the passive voice throughout the settlement, calling it "unfortunate" that they "were damaged" during the "clearing" of the park "so as to render them unusable."
"[T]here is no dispute between the plaintiffs and defendants as regards the importance of books and libraries to plaintiffs' efforts to promote an educated and informed citizenry," according to the settlement.
The city agreed to pay the full value of the books and computers, estimated at $47,000, with a check payable to Occupy Wall Street, Library Working Group and their attorneys at Siegel Teitelbaum & Evans.
The law firm will collect more than $186,000 for representing the activists.
Brookfield Properties, which owns Zuccotti Park, will indemnify the city for more than $15,000.