Back in July, 2012 while returning from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night’s Swing, Caroline Stern, 55, and her boyfriend George Hess, 54, were arrested, handcuffed and held by the New york City Police for dancing the “Charleston” on the subway platform.
“We were doing the Charleston,” Stern said. That’s when two police officers approached and pulled a “Footloose.”
“They said, ‘What are you doing?’ and we said, ‘We’re dancing,’ ” she recalled. “And they said, ‘You can’t do that on the platform.’ ”
The cops asked for ID, but when Stern could only produce a credit card, the officers ordered the couple to go with them – even though the credit card had the dentist’s picture and signature.
When Hess began trying to film the encounter, things got ugly, Stern said.
“We brought out the camera, and that’s when they called backup,” she said. “That’s when eight ninja cops came from out of nowhere.”
Hess was allegedly tackled to the platform floor, and cuffs were slapped on both of them. The initial charge, according to Stern, was disorderly conduct for “impeding the flow of traffic.”
They sued. They won. While NYC Councilman Peter Valone complains that “At $75,000 a dance, the city’s going to go bankrupt sooner than we thought,” he said. “Here, it looks like it was the taxpayers who got served.”
But whose fault is that, Mr. Valone? It’s not illegal to dance in the subway. Maybe the problem is an out of control police department:
For fiscal year 2011, New York City gave out $185.6 million to settle suits against the NYPD. That number rounds out to about $70 per resident, according to the New York Post. Though the New York City Law Department insists there is no blanket policy on settlements, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who also heads the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, said such settlements have only increased since he took office in 2002. [..]
New York Civil Liberties Union head Donna Lieberman insists the city should start learning from suits, rather than just paying to get rid of them.
The city is still facing million in lawsuits by groups and individuals, including two city council members, resulting from brutal, unlawful tactics and false arrests from the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are to blame for this. Perhaps Mr. Vallone needs to stop blaming the lawyers for settling these suits, which would cost even more to litigate, and look at the real cause, an out of control mayor and police department.