26 protestors affiliated with Occupy Wall Street have sued the city, claiming that when they were kicked off Dilworth Plaza in 2011, their freedom of speech and freedom of assembly were violated.
Specifically, the protestors are suing Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and a host of other PPD officers. In an earlier lawsuit Occupy protesters were acquitted of various charges, including failure to disperse and obstructing a highway. The results of that suit, the group claims, proves that they had every right to Occupy Dilworth Plaza, and that the Philadelphia police had no right to kick them off.
An aside: The lawsuit, though it appears to have merit, seems to reflect a broader sub-strategy of the Occupy movement. Though it focused primarily on economic injustice, much of the on-the-ground conflict pitted protesters against police officers, in this city and elsewhere. While no one was exactly happy about getting booted off Dilworth Plaza or Zuccotti Park, many of the Occupiers seemed to revel in the confrontation, which fed into their narrative about corrupt, entrenched power. It also gave them a tangible enemy against whom to rebel — something that’s much harder to do when talking about income inequality. Occupy Philly’s lawsuit may seem like a coda to the events of two years ago, but it’s actually very much in keeping with the spirit of the movement.