From the NY Times:
He had written “The Jerk,” about three inches high, on a campaign poster for James P. Molinaro, the Staten Island borough president. The undercover officers had taken a picture of the poster. There was no question that Mr. Sullivan had written it; moreover, there was no doubt that for weeks before that, he had launched far more pungent strikes against Mr. Molinaro in letters to a newspaper and public officials, criticizing the borough president’s plans to develop part of the Staten Island waterfront.
Somehow the police had begun an investigation of Mr. Sullivan, 52, a former merchant marine who is now an advocate for environmental protection. He was brought to the 120th Precinct and charged with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. Once the case came to court, the Staten Island district attorney declined to prosecute him.
Who gave the orders for the police to investigate him? Why would a nearly broke city squander resources on this? And by the way, what about freedom of speech?
The posters themselves appear to have been put up illegally. Given that, it is unlikely that writing on one of them, as Mr. Sullivan did, would violate any law.
The circumstances of his arrest are too important to be explored only in a civil case, which often winds up being simply a matter of dollars and cents. The City Council is supposed to watch over the executive branch of government, including the police. A lawsuit does not freeze the rest of democracy. Nor is it a substitute.