New York City settles suit over seizure of Occupy Wall Street books

April 10, 2013 5:33:19 AM PDT
A settlement was announced Tuesday in a lawsuit filed over the 2011 seizure of the "People's Library" at the Occupy Wall Street site in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park.

New York City and Brookfield Properties agreed to pay more than $230,000 to settle the lawsuit filed last year in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, according to attorney Norman Siegel.

The settlement calls for the city to pay $47,000 for the loss of books and $186,000 in legal fees, said Siegel. About $16,000 will come from Brookfield, owners of Zuccotti Park.

"This case was not just about money but the violation of Constitutional rights and the importance of books," said Siegel. "No government should destroy books."

The books were taken in the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 2011 when police raided a Manhattan park where the group had gathered for several months to protest income inequality in the United States. Among the books seized were classics by William Shakespeare and Fyodor Dostoevsky, as well as various autobiographies, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg's own, "Bloomberg on Bloomberg," the suit said.

Siegel, who filed the lawsuit against the city, its mayor and other city officials, said at least some of the seized books were crushed by a city sanitation truck.

Nearly a third of the 3,600 books that were seized from Zuccotti Park were eventually returned, the suit said.

A spokeswoman for the city's Law Department, Sheryl Neufeld, released a statement saying that there are many reasons to settle a case and "sometimes cases are settled to avoid drawn-out litigation that bolsters plaintiff attorney fees."