Manhattan DA Declines To Prosecute Some Protest Arrests

WCBS 880 Newsroom
June 05, 2020 - 5:15 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The Manhattan District Attorney's Office announced Friday that it is declining to prosecute protesters arrested on charges of unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct during demonstrations over George Floyd's death.

The move is being made "in the interest of justice," and the office will continue to "evaluate and decline to prosecute other protest-related charges where appropriate," according to a press release.

"The prosecution of protestors charged with these low-level offenses undermines critical bonds between law enforcement and the communities we serve. Days after the killing of George Floyd, our nation and our city are at a crossroads in our continuing endeavor to confront racism and systemic injustice wherever it exists," Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. said in a statemenet. "Our office has a moral imperative to enact public policies which assure all New Yorkers that in our justice system and our society, black lives matter and police violence is a crime. We commend the thousands of our fellow New Yorkers who have peacefully assembled to demand these achievable aims, and our door is open to any New Yorker who wishes to be heard."

Previously, protesters charged with these low-level offenses were offered an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, meaning their cases would be dismissed within six months.

"The D.A.'s Office's policy is designed to minimize unnecessary interactions with the criminal justice system, reduce racial disparities and collateral consequences in low-level offense prosecutions, and enable the Office and court system to preserve resources for the prosecution of serious crimes," according to Vance's office. "If evidence emerges that any individuals personally participated in violence against police officers, destruction, or looting, such individuals will be charged with appropriate crimes."

Earlier this week, State Sen. Brad Hoylman of Manhattan called on the five district attorneys in New York City to drop unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct charges that have been brought against peaceful protesters who have been out taking a stand against police brutality.

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