The sun had barely risen on Tuesday morning when news photographers began gathering outside the criminal courts building on Centre Street in preparation for the arrival of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
A state supreme court judge, Michael J. Obus, was expected to dismiss rape charges against Mr. Straus-Kahn during a late morning hearing, but many of the local and international photographers assigned to document that event decided to arrive extra early in an attempt to stake out a prime vantage point from which to glimpse the defendant.
On the east side of Centre Street a maze of metal barricades stretched across the width of the courthouse. On the west side of the street a line of white, green and blue tents had been set near the curb on Monday to provide shelter for both television reporters and their equipment. The tents remained in place throughout the night and into the morning and some photographers used bike chains to secure ladders –– meant to allow shots over the heads of comrades and competitors –– to lampposts overnight.
Satellite television trucks crowded a small parking lot opposite the courthouse and thick black cables snaked across sidewalks. Onlookers and passersby stopped to gaze at the spectacle. And a group of about 35 people used an area near the parking lot to deliver a message of disapproval directed at both Mr. Strauss-Kahn and Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, whose prosecutors said that questions about the credibility of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, meant they could no longer proceed with her case.
Before Judge Obus formally ruled on the prosecutors’ motion to dismiss the charges, he denied a request by a lawyer for Ms. Diallo requesting that a special prosecutor be appointed to replace Mr. Vance.
The bulk of the sentiments outside the courthouse were decidedly against Mr. Strauss-Kahn.
There were chants (“DSK shame on you,” and “Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes, no means no”). There were placards (“All rape victims deserve a fair trial,” “Stop victim blaming of rape victims” and one with an illustration of a police officer admonishing a top-hatted plutocrat and the slogan “Go to jail”).
And there were a few speeches in which people condemned Mr. Strauss-Kahn as a serial sexual abuser and criticized Mr. Vance for ending the case against him.
Purcell Geter, 64, from Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, said the decision amounted to “a miscarriage of justice”
Stephanie Schwartz, 27, from the East Village, complained that too much attention had focused upon perceived gaps in Ms. Diallo’s reliability and not enough on the allegations she had made against Mr. Strauss Kahn.
And there were some who said they felt that the justice system was set up to unfairly benefit Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a former head of the International Monetary Fund and a prominent French political figure, at the expense of Ms. Diallo, an African immigrant who lives in the Bronx.
“We’re talking about a woman who has no power against a man who has all the power in the world,” said Jaime Barak, 22, from Morningside Heights.