Twenty-six Occupy Philadelphia protesters sued the city in federal court Wednesday, contending that their arrests two years ago after police and city workers dismantled their encampment in front of City Hall violated their First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, maintains that the arrests of the 26 in the predawn hours of Nov. 30, 2011, were without probable cause. That was proved, the suit contends, by the acquittals of all 26 in April 2012 on charges of failure to disperse, obstructing the highway, and criminal conspiracy. The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief involving the city’s handling of the Occupy demonstrators. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel, Capt. William V. Fisher, six specific police officers, and up to 25 unidentified officers who were on the scene at the time of the arrests. Their attorney Paul J. Krasner called the 26 protesters "American heroes who effectively fought economic inequality for the 99 percent and whose thanks from their government was this bogus arrest." Hetznecker said the arrests struck at the "very heart of our democracy."
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