Back in October, protesters arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge and other early Occupy Wall Street marches promised to clog up Manhattan's court system rather than take any kind of deal if their charges weren't fully dismissed, but only 40 percent are sticking to that plan. The change of heart comes after a judge refused to dismiss their summonses outright.
On Wednesday, 166 protesters, most of whom had been arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge, showed up in a Manhattan courtroom for the first of four days that had been scheduled to process them all. On Thursday, Friday, and Wednesday, Dec. 21, another 185 are scheduled to appear on summonses. Their lawyer, Martin Stolar, said Wednesday evening 60 percent had taken an option to have their charges dismissed so long as they didn't get arrested within six months. That's the exact deal they initially refused en masse. From the comments they're giving to the press and to Stolar, it seems more and more occupiers are kind of over protesting for now.
The implication in the city's offer to grant protesters an ACD, short for adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, is that the deal would keep them from protesting for a few months. Under the terms, the charges are dismissed so long as the defendant doesn't get arrested within the next six months. Say, at another protest.
That didn't fly when prosecutors offered it last month. "These are people who are activists; they put themselves in motion with their feet and marched,” Stolar told Businessweek at the time. “They’re more principled than a random 700 people that you would single out.” He told the Daily News his "leverage" for getting the cases thrown out was that "we take them all to trial" and clog up the court system.
But now that Occupy has "arrived," the protest marches have become less frequent as the weather's gotten colder. And more than half the protesters appearing on summonses Wednesday didn't think it worthwhile to fight their cases.
"I feel like the marches helped give that movement its power," arrestee Quinton Mudd told Reuters. "I don't feel like marching now will accomplish the goals we need to accomplish." An ACD also "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," Associated Press reported.
Over the phone, Stolar said he'd heard a variety of reasons from protesters who didn't want to pursue a court battle. "People are saying, 'I’ve got other stuff going on,' " Stolar said. "I’ve got a lot from out of town who arent’ coming back to new york or don’t think they’re coming back to new york ... Others were people who were very busy with final exams and were concerned about their college careers. One guy took an ACD because he’s busy being a hunger striker for democracy in D.C."
About 1,400 have been arrested in New York since Occupy started, including 17 this week, Bloomberg reports. We'd bet there will be a good few more on Saturday, when protesters plan to "re-occupy" Duarte Square in lower Manhattan.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.