Occupy Arrestees Refusing Iris Scan Held Longer; Young Woman Beaten By Police Freed Without Bail
As the latest round of Occupy Wall Street protesters who were arrested in this weekend's crackdown face arraignment and are finally released, reports came out that protesters were being charged more in bail if they refused to have their irises scanned by the police.
The Village Voice reports:
Police and courts have been photographing irises since 2010, once at booking and once on arraignment. The practice is a response to a couple of instances in which mistaken identity allowed someone facing serious charges to go free by impersonating another defendant up on minor charges.
The idea of the state collecting distinctive biometric information from people who haven't even been charged with a crime yet, much less convicted of one, makes civil libertarians nervous, though, and over the last two years they've pushed back. Unlike fingerprints, they argue, no law was ever passed to require iris photographs -- it's just a policy. And while police regularly tell arrestees that the photographs are mandatory, and that failing to be photographed will prolong their stay in jail, defendants have often refused to comply without serious consequence.
Protesters who refused the iris scans, this time around, were given up to $1,000 in bail. National Lawyers Guild NYC President Gideon Oliver told the Voice that one of his clients has refused the iris scan and that the police have refused to allow him to be arraigned until he submits.
Meanwhile, Cecily McMillan, the young womanvideotaped having a seizure after her arrest Saturday night, was released without bail despite prosecutors asking for $20,000. She was charged with obstructing government administration and assault, according to the Guardian's Ryan Devereaux.
The punishment for protesters arrested at Occupy actions seems to be getting more severe as time goes on. But if police hoped to quash a resurgent movement this weekend, they have failed miserably. All their overreaction seems to be doing is stoking public interest in the movement that had flagged somewhat, and helping Occupiers regain momentum for the spring.