An attorney representing the protesters pro bono told Newsday the agreement means that in 6 months all charges will be dropped as long as they are not arrested again. NewsdayTV's Shari Einhorn reports.  Credit: Newsday/Photo Credit: A.J. Singh

Pro-Palestinian protesters arrested at Stony Brook University last month in a case that caused turmoil on campus will have disorderly conduct charges against them dismissed, prosecutors and their attorney said Monday.

Twenty-seven of the 29 people charged have agreed to ACDs — meaning an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal — offered by the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.

The agreement means that in six months, all the charges will be dismissed as long as they are not arrested in the interim, according to Peter Brill, an attorney representing the protesters.

Seven protesters appeared in Central Islip court Monday. The remaining protesters are scheduled to appear in court later this week. 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Pro-Palestinian protesters arrested at Stony Brook University last month will have disorderly conduct charges against them dismissed, prosecutors and their attorney said Monday.
  • Twenty-seven of the 29 people charged have agreed to ACDs — meaning an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal — offered by the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.
  • The agreement means that in six months, all the charges will be dismissed as long as they are not arrested in the interim, according to Peter Brill, an attorney representing the protesters.

Brill said he had yet to hear from the two protesters who haven't agreed to the ACDs. He said he was satisfied with the offer from the DA's office.

“I was pleased that they were open to an amicable and quick resolution,” Brill said. The attorney, who is consulting with the New York Civil Liberties Union, took on the cases pro bono.

The district attorney's office declined to comment on why the charges will be dismissed. Stony Brook University officials referred questions to the district attorney's office.

One expert, former Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Laurae Caruth, said “it's not unusual what the district attorney did.”

Generally, prosecutors drop such charges partly because they don't “have the capacity to prosecute what would be considered such a ‘low level offense,’” said Caruth, who is a research fellow at John Jay College’s Research and Evaluation Center. “They have bigger fish to fry.”

The decision to dismiss the charges might change if a person has a previous criminal record, she said. Sentences for disorderly conduct can range from community service to a fine to jail time, though that is rare, and the maximum permitted by law would be 15 days, she said.

Brill said there were 150 police officers at the scene of the arrests, and prosecuting the cases would have involved, among other things, both prosecutors and the defense going through hours of bodycam footage.

The protesters “shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place since they were exercising their First Amendment rights,” Brill said. They were treated “as if they were criminals. They were not criminals. They were college students.”

They were arrested May 1 after refusing university officials’ orders to move their demonstration off a grassy area in front of the Staller Center.

Most of the suspensions and other actions taken by the university against the protesters have been resolved and dropped, Brill said. The university discipline cases for three student leaders remain open.

Richard Larson, president of the University Senate, welcomed the news that the charges were being dismissed.

“I think dropping the charges will be greeted by many faculty as a welcome step,” he said. “It remains to be seen, however, whether the administration will move to end its own internal disciplinary proceedings against protesters, as recommended in a resolution passed by an overwhelming majority of the senate at its final open meeting in May.”

Stony Brook officials declined Monday to say whether the disciplinary actions are being dropped. 

“Most of the students have already completed the student conduct process and those who have not will complete it shortly,” the university said in a statement. “For privacy reasons, we are not able to share the outcome of individual student conduct matters.”

The arrests generated friction on campus. The University Senate on May 6 passed a resolution calling for Stony Brook administrators to request the dropping of the disorderly conduct charges. A week later, Stony Brook President Maurie McInnis narrowly won a censure vote by the senate criticizing her handling of the protests and arrests.

Yale University announced May 29 that McInnis will be its next president, starting July 1.

The Stony Brook protesters were among some 3,000 people arrested on college campuses across the country this spring as demonstrations spread denouncing Israel’s actions in its war with Hamas militants, including the killing of civilians in Gaza. Israel has said it is trying to root out Hamas, which launched an attack on Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostages. Israel has killed more than 36,000 people in Gaza, most of them civilians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry there.

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