Union says NYPD can’t force bus drivers to assist in Occupy Wall Street arrests05/10/2011 05:19
October 4, 2011
By Madison Ruppert
As I covered in my recent article on the massive arrests that took place on the Brooklyn Bridge (thanks to highly questionable tactics employed by the NYPD) multiple New York public buses were used to transport the protesters to jail.
Now, the Transportation Workers Union Local 100 has asked U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer to stop the NYPD and the New York City Transit Authority from forcing drivers to transport protesters.
Jim Gannon, a spokesman for the 38,000 member union said that a court hearing is set for Tuesday during which they will make the case that the police need to be stopped from forcing transit workers to abandon their routes in favor of assisting in the transport of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators.
Bloomberg Businessweek reports that a lawyer for the union, Arthur Shwartz, said in court papers that, “The actions of the NYPD on Oct. 1, 2011, amounted to a seizure of the bus drivers,” and that the NYPD, “deprived the drivers of their liberty without due process of law.”
It is also important to note that last week the union announced that they are supporting the protests.
Unlike many of the New York City police officers, it seems that the bus drivers realize that the people participating in the Occupy Wall Street protests are fighting for them, too.
The president of TWU Local 100, John Samuelsen, said that police commandeered the buses in order to transport protesters, in one case even telling passengers to leave the bus so it could be used to help the NYPD in their roundup.
Samuelsen said that the drivers didn’t resist because they really didn’t have much choice in the matter at the time.
Samuelsen said, “There’s NYPD brass with guns on buses saying ‘Move the bus, this bus is now under the control of the NYPD.’ What room to protest is there? It’s not a transit supervisor you’re dealing with.”
A spokesman for the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA, said, “We have no intention of changing our longstanding policy of cooperating with the NYPD”.
The New York City Law Department echoed a similar sentiment with spokeswoman Elizabeth Thomas saying, “We believe that the NYPD’s actions were proper”.
However, Samuelsen said that the NYPD only has the right to commandeer vehicles and force people to assist police when there is an “imminent danger” present.
Samuelsen said that TWU Local 100 members have and will continue to participate in legitimate emergencies and assist police and fire departments as necessary.
That being said, Samuelsen points out, “There was no imminent danger here. The protesters this weekend appeared to be marching peacefully, as is their right.”
Today some five activists were arrested near Liberty Plaza for the grand crime of wearing masks in violation of a city ordinance, according to NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.
To keep an eye on this case, you can search for Samuelsen v. Kelly, 11-cv-06947, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
I will continue to provide updates on this issue as details emerge and hearings move forward.
If the TWU Local 100 wins this case, I think it could be a significant sign that more people are starting to get behind the Occupy Wall Street movement and perhaps it could eventually lead to the NYPD realizing that we are all on the same side.
Until the NYPD realizes that their futures, and the futures of their children, are being stolen by the Wall Street elite and the criminals in the private Federal Reserve, we can expect more baseless arrests to continue.