The city of New York violated the Constitution by raiding an Occupy Wall Street site last year, destroying the "People's Library" and seizing its 3,600 books, a new lawsuit charged Thursday.
The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan demanded at least $50,000 in damages, enough to cover the $43,000 value of the books and other costs, along with several thousand dollars in punitive damages.
The books were taken in the early morning hours of Nov. 15 when police raided a Manhattan park where the group had gathered for several months to protest income inequality in the United States. Among the books seized were classics by William Shakespeare and Fyodor Dostoevsky, as well as various autobiographies, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg's own, "Bloomberg on Bloomberg," the suit said.
Attorney Norman Siegel, who filed the lawsuit against the city, its mayor and other city officials, said at least some of the seized books were crushed by a city sanitation truck.
"They thought they'd get away with it and now this lawsuit will hold them accountable," Siegel said. "It's an important lawsuit because you don't destroy books."
Nearly a third of the 3,600 books that were seized from Zuccotti Park were eventually returned, the suit said.
Kate O'Brien Ahlers, a city law department spokeswoman, said the city had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not immediately respond to it. She said the lawsuit would be reviewed.
The lawsuit said the Occupy organization "has not been told by the city of New York what happened to the missing books and library furnishings and equipment."
The lawsuit added: "Upon information and belief, the missing books were destroyed as part of the raid."