NEW YORK – The Rev. Al Sharpton plans to sue the U.S. Navy for $1 million over his treatment during his arrest on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.
Sharpton contends he was strip-searched, forced to sit in mud and made to lie on a wet floor while handcuffed for more than four hours, according to a notice of claim released Tuesday by his attorney, Sanford Rubenstein.
Sharpton additionally claims he was ordered to lie down near motor vehicles, causing him to inhale "pollution and fumes" and "to fear for his life and well being."
Sharpton was arrested May 1 with New York City Councilman Adolfo Carrion Jr., state Assemblyman Jose Rivera and Bronx Democratic Chairman Roberto Ramirez. The four were protesting the Navy's use of Vieques as a naval bombing range. Carrion, Rivera and Ramirez were released after serving 40-day sentences.
Sharpton is currently serving a 90-day prison sentence in a Brooklyn detention center.
Cmdr. Greg Smith, a spokesman for the Navy, would not comment specifically on Sharpton's claims, but said there was nothing to indicate Sharpton had been treated any differently from other trespassers arrested at Camp Garcia on Vieques.
Smith said the Headquarters Atlantic Fleet had conducted a thorough review of the arrests of trespassers at Camp Garcia and determined that the practices employed "were consistent with traditional law enforcement."
Smith said the Navy recognizes the right to protest, but adds that personnel must also "ensure the safety of those who become trespassers."
He said the Navy had not yet officially received a copy of Sharpton's claim notice, which is the first step in a lawsuit against the government.