More members of Occupy Wall Street are coming forward to allege that police carrying old bench warrants for minor violations such as public urination, open container or riding a bicycle on a sidewalk, so that they could interrogate occupiers about May Day activities.
Experts say that while executing old warrants is legal, even old warrants, but the tactic becomes illegal when done solely to investigate political activity.
Officers visited up to six homes the day before the May 1 protests, but Shawn Carrié found himself getting questioned the evening of the protest. He was coordinating all internal communications for the Occupy movement on May Day. At about 9 p.m., he was walking near Wall Street, heading home.
“And somebody comes up to me and says, ‘Shawn?’ And just grabs my arm and nine dudes surround me,” said Carrié.
He said nine plain clothes officers wearing NYPD jackets asked if he had anything sharp in his pockets. He shook his head no. He said they started pulling possessions out of his clothes, including his cell phone, his wallet and keys.
Within seconds, he said, they bound his hands with zip ties, but didn't explain why. Then the officers placed him in a red van waiting nearby that was marked with an NYPD sticker, he said.
Carrié says that after being taken to police headquarters in Lower Manhattan, he was taken to a room where he was questioned about what he was doing that day, and then placed alone in a cell for 13 hours. In court the next day, he learned that he was arrested because of two outstanding warrants from 2007 for "violations related to a public urination incident." To make matters worse, the warrants were for another Shawn Carrié. Police had snatched the wrong guy off the street.
Read the full article by Alisa Chang here, inluding the legal experts opinions, and NYPD Commissioner Commissioner Ray Kelly's remarks on the use of the warrants.