The state’s anti-loitering law, passed in 1964, was ruled unconstitutional three times by state and federal courts in the 1980s and 1990s.
But the NYPD continued arresting beggars or hustlers under the statute for more than two decades. Most of those arrested lacked the resources to fight the charges.
“Thousands of New Yorkers were arrested and forced to defend themselves in court, and even serve time in jail, for completely legal behavior,” said Katherine Rosenfeld, representing the plaintiffs in the class action suit.
The settlement was approved Monday in Manhattan Federal Court, lawyers said Tuesday. Awards would range from $1000 to $10,000. The law firms will collect $3.5 million in fees.
It amazing that the judges didn’t dismiss and void arrests made under an invalid loitering law. And they want raises. They should be forced to contribute to the settlement. Now we know why the NYPD still uses typewriters (it put out a recent RFP for 1,100 typewriters).
Can you think of other good uses for $22 million in city funds? Comment as you see fit.