(Updates with defendants accepting offers in third paragraph.)
Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested last month during a demonstration on New York’s Brooklyn Bridge appeared in court to face disorderly-conduct charges hours after police cleared the Lower Manhattan park at the center of the nationwide protest.
Court officers forbade cheering in the courtroom, and protesters came forward quietly, some in jeans and sweatshirts, others in suits, to tell Judge Melissa Jackson in New York State Supreme Court today whether they would plead not guilty or accept an offer to have charges against them dropped if they’re not rearrested in six months.
“Stay out of trouble,” Jackson told several of the protesters who accepted the offer. Of the protesters who appeared today, 40 accepted the offer and 17 refused, according to a person familiar with the arrests who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
New York City police in riot gear today pushed into Zuccotti Park to remove demonstrators who had been camping there for more than eight weeks to protest income inequality, unemployment and the financial industry. A hearing on whether to allow demonstrators to return to the park and under what terms was held today in state court.
More than 900 people have been charged in connection with the protests since they began Sept. 17, including about 700 arrested during the Oct. 1 bridge demonstration, according to the New York City Police Department.
Martin Stolar, an attorney associated with the National Lawyers Guild who is representing some of the demonstrators, said 100 more protesters are set to appear before a judge this week.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office refused to immediately dismiss charges against the Brooklyn Bridge demonstrators, the largest group arrested in New York, offering to dismiss charges against some if they aren’t arrested again in six months, a so-called adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.
Those who refused the offer today and chose to plead not guilty, saying they were led onto the bridge thinking it was authorized, were ordered to return to court Jan. 11. Motions for those protesters are due by Dec. 2.
More than 50 of about 80 protesters who were arrested during a Sept. 24 march to Union Square in Manhattan on Nov. 3 rejected an offer from Vance to have their cases dismissed if they aren’t arrested within six months, choosing instead to have their cases go to trial. Nine other demonstrators accepted Vance’s offer, while about 14 failed to appear. One case was dismissed.
--Editors: Michael Hytha, John Pickering
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