NYCLU Sues City Over Arrest of RNC Protester

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
February 15, 2005 12:00 am

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Woman Dressed in “Hummer” Costume Unlawfully Detained, Lawsuit Charges

NEW YORK– The New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a lawsuit in federal court charging that the Police Department violated the civil rights of a woman who was arrested for a lawful, solo protest during the Republican National Convention last summer while dressed in a make-shift costume as a Hummer vehicle.

“The arrest of Georgianna Page demonstrated the NYPD’s illegal zero-tolerance approach to political protest during the RNC,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. “This policy denied the free speech rights of individuals and the end result is that many people will question their participation in future demonstrations. We all lose when government actions prevent people from full participation in the political process.”

Georgianna Page is a New York-based Web producer and freelance writer who was arrested on the same day that police arrested 1,100 other individuals, most of whom have since had their cases dismissed. Most prominent was the Manhattan District Attorney’s dismissal of all 227 cases against peaceful protesters arrested near the World Trade Center site.

Page heard there would be a peaceful, organized protest in front of a Hummer dealership on August 31st, and she showed up in her self-designed Hummer costume late that afternoon, only to be met by some 20 members of the press-and no other protesters.

While standing on the curb in front of the dealership, Page was approached by an unidentified Police Department captain and surrounded by 10 other police officers. She was informed that she was obstructing traffic and was told that if she did not leave immediately, she would be arrested.

After Page pointed out that she was not obstructing traffic, the captain directed another officer to handcuff and arrest her, and her costume was torn off in the process. Page was then taken to Pier 57 where she was detained for more than two hours. When she was told she was free to go, Page was offered no explanation for her arrest or release. She was left with no documentation of any of the events that had taken place, except for a property voucher.

“The NYPD’s arrest of Ms. Page and hundreds of other lawful protesters not only threatens to silence protest activity but leaves us deeply concerned about information captured in police files and databases,” said Christopher Dunn, Associate Legal Director of the NYCLU.

Page strongly criticized the Police Department over her arrest.

“The NYPD made me feel violated and disrespected,” Page said. “I believe in civil rights, but the police do not. Their interest is in protecting their administration’s agenda even if it’s corrupt, and they should not get away with that. They need to learn to believe again.”

The NYCLU lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York and seeks relief and damages for Page’s unlawful arrest and detention. The lawsuit names the city along with the unidentified police captain who gave the order to arrest Page as defendants.

NYCLU attorney Palyn Hung is assisting on this lawsuit.

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