Six people affiliated with Penn are plaintiffs in a lawsuit claiming that they were unlawfully arrested as part of the Occupy Philadelphia movement.
The federal suit, filed last week in a U.S. District Court, alleges that the protesters’ constitutional rights were violated when the 26 plaintiffs were arrested during a march in the early hours of Nov. 30, 2011. The lawsuit names the City of Philadelphia, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel and several police officers as defendants.
The suit claims police retaliated when the plaintiffs exercised their rights to free speech and assembly when they were protesting in front of City Hall. It also charges the defendants with unlawful arrest, assault, battery and conspiracy, among other charges.
According to court documents, the plaintiffs were all arrested after police were given orders to end the months-long demonstration at City Hall. The charges against all of the plaintiffs were later dropped.
Five of the plaintiffs — Will Darwall, Emma Johnson, Ellie Dugan, Kevin Stutman and Moshe Bitterman — are current or former Penn students. Toorjo Ghose, a professor in the School of Social Policy & Practice, is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Occupy Philadelphia began in the fall of 2011 as a movement to protest inequity in wealth distribution in the United States. The movement protested the disproportionate power that the richest “1 percent” wields. Spurred by the Occupy Wall Street movement, the protesters set up an encampment in Dilworth Plaza outside of City Hall in early October of 2011.
The protest lasted seven weeks until the end of November, when it was broken up by law enforcement.
On Oct. 21, 2011, demonstrators marched to Huntsman Hall to protest House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who was slated to speak at a Wharton Leadership lecture. Cantor’s office canceled the event in response to the protesters.
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