The city refuses to release detained protestors, despite the unlawfulness.
On Thursday, New York Supreme Court Judge Justice James Burke refused to release hundreds of prisoners who had been detained by the New York Police Department for more than 24 hours, ruling that the exceptional circumstances in the case justify the protestors being held indefinitely. Hundreds of New York City protestors have been arrested recently during mass protests in the city over the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
Justice James Burke rejected the petition calling for the release of the protestors, writing in his ruling, “It is a crisis within a crisis. All writs are denied." Burke also agreed with the NYPD’s claim that arraignment hearings are delayed due to the ongoing pandemic, “because we are in a crisis caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic which prevents live arraignments, which in turn causes virtual arraignments."
The Legal Aid Society, the non-profit organization that sued the NYPD for the extended detainment of protestors, opposed the coronavirus argument during a court hearing Thursday, saying “The NYPD has no excuses with its 38,000 police officers and the best technology in the world, with all the money they are being given. They have no excuse to not process them in a timely manner."
The decision was immediately condemned by New York lawmakers and activists alike, who criticized the ruling as an unlawful moratorium of the right of habeas corpus, a writ in U.S. law that requires a person under arrest to be brought before a judge to determine if the arrest is just or not.
New York City Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared her qualms with the ruling on Twitter, tweeting "Civil liberties protect ourselves from governments using 'crises' and 'emergencies' as justification to dismantle our rights," she continued, "This is suspension of habeas corpus, it is unconstitutional, and it is deeply disturbing that both NYPD is seeking it and a judge rubber stamped it."