New York police have arrested a total of 20 legal observers, seven of whom were released over the weekend. The observers were among 600 attorneys, law students and other volunteers trained by the National Lawyers Guild to observe police conduct and testify in court should disputes arise.
Those released were charged with misdemeanors and will go to court in September, according to the guild. “There has been absolutely no explanation,” for the arrests, said guild organizer Simone Levine. “We put them in bright green hats so police officers know they’re neutral,” she said.
The legal observers were “doing nothing more than standing on the sidewalk,” said Chris Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, who witnessed three observers getting arrested on 46th Street and Broadway. Dunn said the observers were marching with protesters the Times Square area when they were “dispersed” into a corner by police officers, who then rounded them up with an orange net. “They were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
Levine added that on Tuesday police officers, without explanation, confiscated the identification card of a legal observer who was wearing the trademark neon green hat but was not working.
“We are clearly marked and designated,” said Daniel Meyers, an attorney serving as a legal observer for the protests.” “It’s not like you can pick up a hat and say ‘I’m a legal observer,” he said. “There have been training sessions going on for months.”
The New York Police Department declined to comment. [9/1]