Occupy Wall Street Protesters Make Court Appearances In New York

NEW YORK (AP) – Nearly 200 people arrested during Occupy Wall Street-related protests were in New York courtrooms hundreds of miles apart Wednesday, answering charges that stemmed from a march on the Brooklyn Bridge and a demonstration in a Rochester park.

WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell On The Case

In Manhattan, arraignments were under way for 166 people, most of them among the more than 700 picked up in an Oct. 1 march that marked the biggest mass arrest of the New York protest so far. Hundreds of other protesters arrested on the bridge and during other Occupy demonstrations in the city have already been to court, but this week’s numbers are some of the biggest.

Meanwhile, 28 Occupy Wall Street supporters were set to appear in a Rochester court on charges of trespassing by staying in a park past its curfew.

Some wearing their Occupy Wall Street allegiance on buttons – and in one case, a hand-painted oxford shirt – lined hallways and an overflow courtroom in a Manhattan courthouse that handles low-level offenses. Many had been arrested on the bridge after police said protesters ignored warnings not to leave a pedestrian path and go onto the roadway.

The demonstrators were generally charged with disorderly conduct and blocking traffic, both violations. Many took a judge’s offer Wednesday to get their cases dismissed if they avoid getting arrested again for six months.

That made sense to Mark Pruce, who’d gotten up at 4:30 a.m. to get to court from his home in rural Millerton, N.Y., about 100 miles and $45 in trains and subways away.

Like many others arrested, he said he hadn’t heard any police warnings and thought officers were letting the demonstrators go onto the road. But the freelance graphic and web designer, 24, said it would be difficult for him to return to court repeatedly to fight the case.

Some others told Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Neil Ross they wanted trials.

Amanda Geraci, 29, said it would be a pain to come back to court from her home in Philadelphia. But she turned down the dismissal deal, partly because she didn’t like the condition of staying out of trouble for six months.

“I’m not going to have something over my head from a justice system I didn’t do anything wrong against,” she said after court.

Over the nearly three months since Occupy Wall Street began, New York City police have arrested more than 1,200 people in connection with the demonstration. Besides those arraigned Wednesday, about 170 more have court dates later this week.

They, too, will appear before Ross, a veteran of prominent protest cases. In 2006, he acquitted 18 members of an activist group called the Granny Peace Brigade of disorderly conduct charges stemming from an anti-Iraq War protest outside the Times Square military recruiting station. He said the evidence showed they hadn’t blocked foot traffic or kept anyone from going in.

The demonstrators due in court in Rochester were among 48 arrested in a small downtown park. Their arrests were the first of Occupy supporters in upstate New York’s major cities.

They were accused of trespassing by staying in Washington Square Park after hours. But since the arrests, Mayor Tom Richards has shifted direction to let Occupy Rochester protest round the clock there. About 35 tents have since sprung up.

Protesters say Rochester is now the only city in New York to provide a legal basis for an Occupy encampment.

It was unclear whether the trespassing charges would be dropped at a Wednesday afternoon hearing in City Court.

(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


One Comment

  1. Paul Jones says:

    These comments are insightful and right on point. It is better to accept an ACD and have the record of the arrest expunged, providing no new contact with the system. Almost all job applications require the applicant to list all arrests and then explain the outcome of the proceeding. Most of the OWS protesters were oblivious to the serious consequences of their actions. In criminal actions constitution rights are rarely if ever decided at the trial level.


    “Change is on the Horizon Part 3 of 3 The Farmer Claims Program ”

    [audio src="http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TC-48361/TS-552473.mp3" /]

  3. Tired of Paying for OWS! says:

    If the worst they are looking at is a Violation (Disorderly Conduct), they really have nothing to lose except their time. I wonder if anyone is looking into whether or not these occupiers qualifiy for a free defense attorney? We’ll see how fast they would jump on the offer of an ACD if they had to pay out of pocket for a lawyer, instead of diverting more tax dollars for services they don’t qualify for.

  4. misdemeanor says:

    Everyone of you that were arrested will find out the hard way when you try applying for a job where a background check is required, your FBI record never goes away, even if you get off on a misdemeanor charge like disturbing the peace or something seemingly trivial. Employers will frown on this predicament no matter how sad your story is and will choose another candidate over you. Good luck finding that dream job.

Comments are closed.

More From CBS New York

Get Our Morning Briefs

Listen Live