A federal judge says the New York Police Department acted illegally when it arrested a large number of protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention.
The judge, Richard J. Sullivan of Federal District Court, said that the city had lacked the required probable cause because the police were unaware of whether each individual protester had broken the law.
“An individual’s participation in a lawbreaking group may, in appropriate circumstances, be strong circumstantial evidence of that individual’s own illegal conduct,” the judge wrote in a 32-page opinion. “But, no matter the circumstances,” he added, “an arresting officer must believe that every individual arrested personally violated the law. Nothing short of such a finding can justify arrest. The Fourth Amendment does not recognize guilt by association.”