Quantcast

10 People Found Not Guilty in Flood Wall Street Protest, Judge Takes Judicial Notice of Climate Change

Climate

You probably remember the polar bear getting arrested in the "Flood Wall Street" protest in September the day after the historic People's Climate March. Several thousand people took to the street in the Financial District to identify and protest against Wall Street's central role in fueling climate destruction. At the end of the day, 102 people were arrested for sitting in the street at the intersection of Broadway and Wall. Ten of the arrestees subsequently decided to fight their charges in court.

"New York City Criminal Court Judge Robert Mandelbaum recognizes that climate change is happening, humans are causing it and immediate action needs to be taken," according Flood Wall Street. Photo credit: Spencer H. Johnson via Flickr

And yesterday, these 10 were found "not guilty" by New York City Criminal Court Judge Robert Mandelbaum. According to Flood Wall Street, Judge Mandelbaum ruled that the New York Police Department's (NYPD) order to disperse violated the First Amendment. In his ruling, the judge also found "that by ordering protesters to leave the entire Wall Street area, police violated protesters' First Amendment right to carry their message directly to its intended recipients: the Wall Street bankers who bankroll climate change."

Defense Attorney Jonathan Wallace successfully argued that the Constitution protects Americans' rights to "express political speech within proximity to the target of the protest. In this case, the NYPD first prevented protesters from entering Wall Street before later ordering them to leave the area altogether." This method of policing proved to be unlawful. 

That is a victory in and of itself for the 10 individuals, as well as, the general American public and its right to protest. But the judge went even further "by taking judicial notice that climate change is happening, is a serious problem, requires immediate action and is caused by human activity," said Flood Wall Street.

“The importance of judicial notice is that the judge accepted climate change and the need to do something about it as a fact without the necessity of any evidentiary support or proof at trial,” said Defense Attorney Martin Stolar. “To the best of my knowledge, this is unprecedented and has significance for future litigation involving climate change.”

The ruling sets an important legal precedent in recognizing the constitutional legitimacy of mass civil disobedience actions protesting climate change, according to Flood Wall Street. The 10 defendants gave passionate testimony to the court, "affirming that their actions were justified."

“I got arrested to protect my five-year-old son’s future,” said Susan Heitker, one of the defendants. The judge’s ‘judicial notice’ shows that the climate justice movement is creating a broader shift in our society’s desire to address climate change and this gives me hope."

Jeneen Roybal, a disabled U.S. Army veteran who was one of the defendants said: “This is an important precedent, not only for climate change demonstrators, but everyone who engages in protest activity.

It's an important precedent, especially because of whom the protest was directed towards. Wall Street companies fund and profit off disaster for all us, and finance capitalism won’t be able to deal with the social fallout of climate change. We urgently need to act to save our planet and futures,” said Jason Woltjen, one of the defendants.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

David Suzuki: Climate Change Is Real Threat, Not Activists Calling for Immediate Action

HBO’s Award-Winning VICE Exposes Climate Deniers and the Dire Consequences of Sea Level Rise

Ted Glick: It’s Time to Seize the Moment and Ratchet Up the Pressure

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg speaks during her protest action for more climate protection with a reporter. Steffen Trumpf / picture alliance / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

It's been 30 years since Bill McKibben rang the warning bells about the threat of man-made climate change — first in a piece in The New Yorker, and then in his book, The End of Nature.

Read More Show Less
At the International Motor Show (IAA), climate protestors are calling for a change in transportation politics. © Kevin McElvaney / Greenpeace

Thousands of protestors marched in front of Frankfurt's International Motor Show (IAA) on Saturday to show their disgust with the auto industry's role in the climate crisis. The protestors demanded an end to combustion engines and a shift to more environmentally friendly emissions-free vehicles, as Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Setting and testing the line protections for Siemens SF6 gas insulated switchgear in 2007. Xaf / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Electricity from renewable sources is growing exponentially as the technology allows for cheaper and more efficient energy generation, but there is a dark side that has the industry polluting the most powerful greenhouse gas known to humanity, as the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less
Ella Olsson / Pexels

By Elizabeth Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Sweet and regular potatoes are both tuberous root vegetables, but they differ in appearance and taste.

They come from separate plant families, offer different nutrients, and affect your blood sugar differently.

Read More Show Less
Scientists in Saskatchewan found that consuming small amounts of neonicotinoids led white-crowned sparrows to lose significant amounts of weight and delay migration, threatening their ability to reproduce. Jen Goellnitz / Flickr

By Julia Conley

In addition to devastating effects on bee populations and the pollination needed to feed humans and other species, widely-used pesticides chemically related to nicotine may be deadly to birds and linked to some species' declines, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is set to unveil a package of measures on Friday, Sept. 20, to ensure that the country cuts its greenhouse gas emissions 55% by 2030, compared with the 1990 levels.

Read More Show Less
Assorted plastic bottles. mali maeder / Pexels

California ended its 2019 legislative session Saturday without passing two bills that would have led the nation in tackling plastic pollution, The Mercury News reported.

Read More Show Less
People carry children on a flooded street in Almoradi, Spain on Sept. 13. JOSE JORDAN / AFP / Getty Images

Record rainfall and flooding in southeastern Spain killed six people as of Saturday, The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less