Judge rules against Occupy Wall Street encampment

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NEW YORK — A New York judge has upheld the city’s dismantling of the Occupy Wall Street encampment, saying that the protesters’ First Amendment rights don’t entitle them to camp out indefinitely in the plaza.

Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman today denied a motion by the demonstrators seeking to be allowed back into the park with their tents and sleeping bags.

The New York Times quoted Stallman as saying in his ruling: “The court is mindful of the movement’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and peaceable assembly.” Quoting from another court decision, he added: “Even protected speech is not equally permissible in all places and at all times.”

The Times reported Stallman wrote that the protesters “had not demonstrated that the rules adopted by the owners of the property, concededly after the demonstrations began, are not reasonable time place and manner restrictions permitted under the First Amendment.”

Stallman also said, according to the Associated Press, that the protesters “have not demonstrated that they have a First Amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators and other installations to the exclusion of the owner’s reasonable rights … or to the rights to public access of others who might wish to use the space safely.”

Police cleared out the protesters in a nighttime sweep long before dawn this morning. The judge upheld the city’s effective eviction of the protesters after an emergency appeal by the National Lawyers Guild.

The protesters have been camped out in privately owned Zuccotti Park since mid-September. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he ordered the sweep because health and safety conditions and become “intolerable” in the crowded plaza.

The Times quoted Bloomberg as saying, “New York City is the city where you can come and express yourself. What was happening in Zuccotti Park was not that.” The protesters had taken over the park, he said, “making it unavailable to anyone else.”

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