Good news today for the First Amendment in New York City: the city has agreed to pay out $583,000 to fourteen people whose constitutional rights to peaceably assemble, guaranteed under the First Amendment to our Constitution, were trampled by police officers who arrested them on trumped up charges during the Occupy Wall Street protests at the end of 2011.
That's important and welcome news indeed. But I'm wondering: what will happen to the NYPD cops who made the illegal arrests? What will happen to the supervisors, to then Police Commissioner Kelly, and then Mayor Bloomberg?
The answer: nothing. And that's why these violations of the First Amendment continue. Violating the Constitution should be a pretty serious crime - after all, it's the Supreme Law of the Land. And yet, pepper-spraying officers in California, officers in New York who claim demonstrators are blocking when traffic when they are not, continue to act if they're illiterate or other can't understand what the right to peaceably assemble means.
Fortunately, in our age of omni-present video, it's more difficult than it was in the past for police to get away with these crimes. Tim Pool's video, for example, got Alexander Arbuckle acquitted a few years ago, when he was arrested on bogus charges in New York City during an OWS demonstration. Video also played a role in the city's decision to compensate the 14 people wrongfully arrested with almost $600,000, after the DA wisely decided not to prosecute the nonsense charges.
But what can be done to stop this police and Mayoral abuse in the future? Putting the culprits behind bars, including the former Mayor, would be a good way to start.