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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Boston #Occupy Gets The Boot

Boston #Occupy Gets The Boot

“... while Occupy Boston protesters may be exercising their expressive rights during their protest, they have no privilege under the First Amendment to seize and hold the land on which they sit.” - Judge Frances A. McIntyre

By Dell Hill

Another day, another court decision against the #Occupy protest movement.  This time it’s in Boston and the Boston Herald has our report.

Boston #Occutards Square Off With Boston PD

“Hours after a judge lifted an injunction, Mayor Thomas M. Menino called on the defiant Occupy Boston protesters to strike their tents and stop camping at Dewey Square.

“The conditions at Dewey Square have deteriorated significantly and pose very real health and safety risks.  The city strongly encourages the Occupy movement to abide by the Rose Kennedy Greenway regulations and remove their tents and refrain from camping in that area,” Menino said tonight.

“We applaud the judge for clearly recognizing the City’s authority to protect all of our residents, including those currently at Dewey Square.  Our first priority has always been and will always be to ensure the public’s health and safety,” Menino added.

The ruling gives the mayor the authority to remove the occupiers from their downtown tent city, but Menino spokeswoman Dot Joyce said there are no immediate plans to do so.

There is a strong police presence at the Occupy encampment with 15 uniformed police on the outskirts of the rambling tent city and five Transit Police SUVs parked nearby outside South Station.

“The city is pleased with this decision, which gives the city clarity on this issue and the ability to maintain the safety and well-being of all of our residents,” Joyce said.  “This ruling gives us the ability to take action if and when the time comes to do that.”

Occupiers learned by email this afternoon that Suffolk Superior Court Judge Frances A. McIntyre lifted the temporary restraining order that has blocked city officials from forcibly dismantling the Dewey Square encampment.  That order was “vacated” as of 3 p.m.

“The judge ... has ruled against our case and has lifted the temporary restraining order,” an occupier named Eric told group members in the email.  “Ben (one of the group’s lawyers) asked me to disseminate this info widely.  I haven’t seen the ruling and don’t know the reasoning of it.”

Occupier Dave Lehnert told the Herald: “Oh my, I’m stunned, absolutely stunned.”

Occupier Ryan Cahill, who has been in Washington, D.C., for the past several days, said, “Yikes, that’s exciting.  I thought we had more time.”

Cahill said he plans to return to Boston as soon as possible, to figure out the group’s next moves.

The judge ruled today: “... while Occupy Boston protesters may be exercising their expressive rights during their protest, they have no privilege under the First Amendment to seize and hold the land on which they sit.”

The judge goes on to say: “ ‘Occupation’ speaks of boldness, outrage, and a willingness to take personal risk but it does not carry the plaintiffs’ professed message.  Essentially, it is viewed as a hostile act, an assertion of possession against the rights of another. The act of occupation, this court has determined as a matter of law, is not speech. Nor is it immune from criminal prosecution for trespass or other crimes.”

In her 25-page decision, McIntyre went on to say: “... the setting up of the tents, sleeping, and governance on Dewey Square is expressive conduct and symbolic.  Nevertheless, it is subject to City and Park regulations and restrictions.

“Their lawyer has argued that ‘the occupation is the message.’

“This begs the question: can a group take over and occupy public property in the name of the First Amendment?  No controlling opinion has been offered that has considered the seizure of a public forum as a First Amendment exercise.  The court grasps the nettle and states that occupation, defined as taking possession by settlement or seizure, is not a symbol or expressive conduct that is constitutionally protected.”

Read the entire report by clicking right here.

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