MANHATTAN (CN) – Five Occupy Wall Street activists demand in Federal Court that New York City pay them for nearly 3,000 books destroyed in the Nov. 15 police raid that shut down the Zuccotti Park encampment.
About a week after the raid, the activists who ran the so-called People’s Library asked Mayor Michael Bloomberg to restore the collection, and their attorney Norman Siegel hinted at the time that he was prepared to sue.
“Make my day,” Siegel said, invoking “Dirty Harry.”
Siegel, a former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, filed the lawsuit last week with co-counsel Herbert Teitelbaum, of Siegel, Teitelbaum & Evans.
Among the books taken was “Bloomberg by Bloomberg,” the autobiography of the defendant mayor.
Also sued are Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, and John Doe police officers and city officials.
Plaintiffs are Occupy Wall Street and five of its librarians: Amanda Rose Henk, Michele Lee Hardesty, Frances Mercanti-Anthony, Jaime Taylor and Elizabeth Fagin.
Their 16-page lawsuit details the early morning raid, which police closed off to the press.
According to the complaint, the NYPD arrived at Zuccotti Park at 1 a.m., using bullhorns and fliers to order protesters to leave the park for it to be cleaned.
Sanitation workers swooped into the park about 45 minutes later and filled 26 trucks with books, computers, shelves, furniture and other equipment before the activists had a chance to take them away, the complaint states.
The next day, plaintiffs Fagin and Hardesty said they went to a Midtown sanitation garage to retrieve their stuff and were told to return at the end of the week.
“Of the at least 3,600 books that were seized on November 15, only 1,003 were recovered,” the complaint states. “Moreover, 201 of the recovered books were so damaged that they were unusable. Thus, at least approximately 2,798 books were never returned or were damaged and made unusable.”
They estimate that these missing books cost at least $43,000, and that six computers, a wi-fi device, 24 metal shelves and other furniture and library equipment cost another $4,000.
They want $47,000 for the lost books and equipment and $1,000 in punitive damages for constitutional violations, negligence and conversion.