Protesters arrested during Union Square march refuse prosecutor’s deal
In court this morning, 53 people who were arrested during an Occupy Wall Street march to Union Square, refused an offer from the Manhattan district attorney to have the charges against them dropped. They could now be heading to trial.
78 protesters were scheduled to be in court, stemming from arrests that happened during a march on September 24. The majority of them were offered a deal that would drop disorderly conduct charges against them if they avoided arrest for the next six months. Nine protesters accepted the offer, according to Erin Duggan, the communications director for District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
Charges were dismissed in the case of John Farley, an online editor for WNET, after his station said he was at the event to cover it, according to CBS. One misdemeanor was adjourned. 14 people were no-shows. The judge issued a one-time stay on bench warrants and called on those absent from court to appear, along with the protesters who refused the prosecutor’s offer, on January 9.
The protesters who refused the deal did so because they felt the charges against them were unjustified, according to the AP.
“The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office fully supports every person’s first amendment right to peacefully demonstrate,” said Erin Duggan. “At the same time, we are charged with enforcing violations of the law.”
She said her office is assigning these cases to assistant district attorney’s in each of the trial bureaus.
“However, to ensure the greatest degree of consistency and fairness in case evaluation and possible disposition of cases, our office has assigned a senior felony assistant district attorney to coordinate and supervise the flow of the cases through the court system,” she said.
There have been 555 arrests related to Occupy Wall Street since the movement began, according to the D.A.’s office.