Women's Strike Organizers Arrested in NYC for Blocking Traffic

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on March 09, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The NYPD celebrated International Women's Day yesterday by arresting thirteen women for blocking traffic outside the Trump International Hotel in New York City. Among those detained were female organizers of Women's March Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, and Carmen Perez.

While the women appeared to take their sit-in arrest in stride as it were, tweeting out photos from the police van, the detentions raised a few eyebrows as well as questions about protest rights.

Disruptions and Disorderly

The demonstrations were part of the "A Day Without a Woman" protest marking International Women's Day, and were part of worldwide gatherings designed to highlight women's rights issues from equal pay to sexual abuse. According to reports, organizers and other protesters were sitting in the street near the Trump Hotel at Columbus Circle, disrupting traffic when they were arrested. Reporters at the scene said the women were arrested for disorderly conduct.

The charge may sound like a misnomer for behavior that was organized and, well, orderly. But disorderly conduct is often a "catch-all statute," meant to encompass everything from drinking in public to public disruptions, and may even cover loitering in some states. And when protestors are arrested for blocking streets or traffic, disorderly conduct is often the charge.

Powerful Arrests

Almost all of the thirteen women had been released by Wednesday evening, and seemed in good spirits even after their ordeal. Perez joked that the detainees were "plotting the next big action" while on the inside. "The goal is to show young girls and women that their voice is their power," Perez told Time following her release. "The fact that we're able to inspire so many other women out here in the world is truly an honor."

Next for the arrestees, should they choose not to challenge the charges, is likely a small fine. Disorderly conduct under New York law is a violation, which, while it can include up to 15 days in jail, does not result in a criminal record.

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