A member of Occupy Wall Street has filed a claim on behalf of the group stating that the city of New York had either damaged beyond repair, or destroyed books and other property from the People's Library at Zuccotti Park totalling $47,000. Filing the claim is the first step towards a civil suit in the matter.
When the Occupy Wall Street encampment was evicted from the park on Nov. 15, police officers and sanitation workers dismantled and removed belongings and furnishings that had been kept in the park, tossing them onto sidewalks, into metal containers and into a dump truck. Many of those items ended up at a Sanitation Department facility in Midtown, where they were made available for pickup by their owners, some of whom found them damaged beyond repair. Other property, some of the Occupy protesters say, never resurfaced.
The lawyers who filed the claim, Alan Levine, Michael L. Spiegel and the law firm Siegel Teitelbaum & Evans, wrote that the city “unreasonably seized and took possession” of about 3,600 books, four computers, WiFi equipment, shelves, wooden chairs and the large tent that covered the area that the protesters called the People’s Library. The man who is named in the claim, Peter Dutro, is described in the notice as the “de facto treasurer” of the group.
When the librarians went to the sanitation facility, the claim said, only 1,003 of their books could be found and 201 of them were so damaged as to be unusable. The four computers were also damaged beyond repair, the claim said, and protesters said at the time that hard drives were missing from those machines that were retrieved and that the casings of the computers had been twisted and bent.
The claim put the value of the lost books at $43,000 and estimated the value of furnishings that were not recovered at $4,000. The lawyers wrote that the value of the damaged computers and communications equipment had not yet been determined.
The library's destruction drew condemnation from a host of writers and organizations, including the American Library Association and author Salman Rushdie. Some of the books were signed copies given by authors, including one donated the previous day by Philip Levine, the US poet laureate.