One of our appeals involved a cop who punched a man in the head for refusing to explain why he was walking through the lobby of his own building. Guess who was convicted of assault causing physical injury? The tenant, of course. His head had caused the cop to sprain his wrist.
So pity the poor NYPD cops getting hurt while arresting peaceful Occupy Wall St. demonstrators last night. Did they get blisters from wielding their clubs, or breathe their own pepper spray? Or get tangled up in those plastic handcuffs that they carry by the bundle in gleeful anticipation of making lots and lots of arrests, not to mention overtime pay?
This morning on the radio Governor Cuomo, who belongs to the shipdeck-in-a-typhoon school of elocution, bellowed that he’s not going to let the Occupy Wall Street protestors “divide black from white, upstate from downstate and rich from poor.”
We take umbrage. OWS is nothing if not racially diverse and it’s simply not true that all upstaters are hayseeds married to their sisters. But we’re pleased to hear that the rich aren’t divided from the poor, at least not until OWS came along.
We’re ardent supporters of Occupy Wall St., at least when the weather isn’t too bad. Before the protests started, Zuccotti Park was just a granite slab with a few spindly trees between Broadway and Church St. that nobody even realized was a park, let alone that it had a name. Over the last two months, especially on sunny weekends, it became a true public forum.
As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Roberts said, “Wherever the title of streets and parks may rest, they have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions. Such use of the streets and public places has, from ancient times, been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens.” Plus, the right can’t be abridged “in the guise of regulation” such as promulgating ex post facto park rules against lying down or pitching tents.
All right, so it wasn’t the current Justice Roberts who said that -it was Justice Owen Roberts in 1939 – but Supreme Court precedent is absolutely binding when two judges have the same last name.
Let no one say the NYPD has overturned the First Amendment right of assembly. Anyone in this city is perfectly free to peacefully assemble so long as they don’t mind being attacked, clubbed, hemmed in by steel fences and dragged away in plastic handcuffs.