The City of New York has agreed to pay more than $230,000 to Occupy Wall Street in order to settle a lawsuit filed last year in Federal District Court asserting that police and sanitation workers damaged or destroyed books and other property when clearing Zuccotti Park in 2011. The settlement reveals the extent to which the NYPD wanted to avoid prolonging the case and paying even more in legal fees.
The Occupy Wall Street movement began in September 2011, and as the masses gathered, they claimed temporary residency in Zuccotti Park in New York’s financial district. The community created pop-up services, including what was called "The People’s Library," a makeshift collection of thousands of books. However, the police evicted protestors on Nov. 15, 2011. Over 3500 books were removed from the site, and only 1,000 have since been recovered. Protestors filed the suit in the Southern District Court of New York to get reimbursed for damages to the books.
OWS v. Bloomberg will call for Brookfield Properties, the designated owners of the park, to contribute to the settlement with roughly $16,000. Brookfield hired a company to remove whatever remained in the park to be brought to a landfill for disposal. As for the rest of the fees, the city will owe upwards of $47,000 to OWS’ Library Working Group and an additional $186,000 will be paid in legal fees alone.
It is remarkable to see how easily these city agencies caved. The case was costing the defendants a small fortune, and the easiest thing for the city of New York to do was to pay up.
"It was absolutely necessary for the city to address the rapidly growing safety and health threats posed by the Occupy Wall street encampment," officials said in a statement.
While the NYPD and Brookfield had a strong case to justify taking control of the park, they certainly took a cop out strategy to avoid even more fees. If this case sets any sort of precedence, protestors will have more opportunities to win settlements from New York City.