Nearly 80 demonstrators who were arrested during an Occupy Wall Street march in September appeared before a judge Thursday, and many of them refused a deal that would ultimately dismiss their cases.
Thursday marks the first court date for 78 demonstrators arrested while marching from their Lower Manhattan base to Union Square.
Nine demonstrators took a deal from prosecutors that will result in their cases being dismissed in six months if they stay out of trouble.
A total of 53 refused the deal, meaning their cases will go to trial. One case was dismissed, one was adjourned and 14 people didn't show up.
Prosecutors said the demonstrators blocked traffic and prevented pedestrians from getting by. But many of the protesters said the disorderly conduct charges weren't justified. They said they stayed on the sidewalk, took care to leave a path for others to get through and followed police instructions.
"We clearly were very peaceful, and there was no reason for it," said Tile Wolfe, 19, who works at a New York nonprofit. "I was arrested on a sidewalk, standing with peace signs in the air, so it was kind of absurd."
She and others who turned down the offer — officially called an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal — were released without bail until a Jan. 9 court date.
A lawyer who represented many of them, Martin R. Stolar, said the cases should be dismissed because of "the ambiguity of the police orders that everybody received."