NEW YORK (CN) – The New York Civil Liberties Union sued two officers on behalf of a Staten Island man who says he was targeted by police and arrested last summer for criticizing plans by Staten Island’s borough president to develop an abandoned naval base on the island’s north shore.
Edward Kerry Sullivan is the executive director of the Natural Resources Protective Association, which opposes Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro’s plans to develop Stapleton Homeport, an abandoned naval base that has been slated to become a public park.
In early August, Sullivan mailed letters to public officials and wrote a letter to the Staten Island Advance asking residents to express their dissatisfaction when they vote.
Several days later, Sullivan was arrested and handcuffed outside his home, allegedly for writing “The Jerk” on the corner of an illegally posted Molinaro campaign sign, according to the Federal complaint.
The NYCLU says cops told Sullivan they were following him for several days and that he had made “enemies upstairs.” They also tried to delay his original court date for more than three months until after the Nov. 3 election, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors eventually dropped the charges.
“The right to criticize the government is one of our most important constitutional guarantees,” NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn said in a statement. “It is intolerable for elected officials to recruit the police to intimidate and silence their critics.”
NYCLU says Sullivan’s constitutional rights were trampled, and seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.