Staten Island Residents Arrested During Protest Against Migrant Shelter Take Legal Action Against New York City

Like other Democratic-led sanctuary cities, New York has been crushed by a surge of migrants — more than 142,000 have come seeking asylum.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Staten Island residents gather to protest outside of a closed Catholic school-turned-migrant shelter, August 28, 2023, at New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Seven Staten Island residents who attended a protest against a migrant shelter are taking legal action against New York City, claiming they were “wrongfully arrested” in violation of their First Amendment rights. 

The September incident took place during a protest against a migrant shelter at a former senior living center and followed similar Staten Island protests, which were then dubbed by the New York Times as the “front line of the fight” over how to handle the city’s migrant crisis. 

Like other Democratic-led sanctuary cities, New York City has been crushed by a surge of migrants — more than 142,000 have come seeking asylum, according to the mayor’s office.

The legal action reflects the next front in the immigration battle, as residents in sanctuary cities increasingly fight back against what they perceive to be preferential treatment toward migrants while their own rights and sense of safety are trampled upon. At Chicago, residents have been protesting the building of a migrant shelter for weeks, even telling police they’re “ready to go to jail” before backing down, as the Chicago Sun Times noted.

The Staten Island residents, represented by their attorney, Robert Brown, filed  notices of claim with the city’s Office of the Comptroller, which is a required step before it’s legal to sue the city for “wrongful action or inaction.”

The claims, viewed by the Sun, indicate the residents are seeking monetary damages for “false arrest, unlawful imprisonment,” and “violation of civil rights,” in addition to alleged First Amendment violations. 

The residents were attending what they said was a peaceful protest near 1111 Father Capodanno Boulevard at Staten Island, the notices say, when they were arrested “without probable cause,” confined, and “given a criminal summons” for failing to disperse, despite not being “ordered to” disperse “or given the opportunity to do so.” 

At the time of the protests, a city council member, David Carr, said it showed that everyone is “really angry.” 

“The migrant crisis has reached apocalyptic proportions, financially, for our city,” he said, as CBS reported at the time. 

As a result of their arrests, the claimants “suffered confinement, loss of liberty, shock, fear, and mental anguish” and were “falsely caused to be confined,” the claims note. 

The residents — Louis Tormo, Ryan Schnell, Christian Schlagler, Kirill Luginin, Johnny Lopez, Sergiy Kulbida, and Nicholas Delprete — claim they were deprived of constitutional rights, including to be secure against “unreasonable searches and seizure,” First Amendment rights, and “due process of law.”

The NYPD tells the Sun it “will review the lawsuit if and when we are served.” 

A representative from New York’s American Civil Liberties Union tells the Sun it is reviewing the case. The group has previously fought to “transform the way the NYPD polices protests” and “reduce the presence of police at protests.”

New York City’s mayor, Eric Adams, was not immediately available to comment on the legal action but had previously called out the September protest as an “ugly display.” 

“We cannot allow the numerical minority that’s showing ugly display of how we deal with the crisis to be used as an example of what New Yorkers are doing,” he said during an interview with “Mornings on 1.” Mr. Adams said after the protests he would not allow New York to be bullied out of “carrying out our responsibilities” toward the migrants.

The New York Sun

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