New York state supreme court has ruled that the Occupy Wall Street protesters have lost their bid to restore a full encampment at Zuccotti Park, where the protests began two months ago.
Earlier today, mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged to re-open the park and allow the protesters to return, but without camping equipment. It now remains to be seen whether he will fulfil his promise.
No surprise, really. The courts serve Wall Street. The long delay and chaos before the ruling was Bloomberg & co. getting their ducks in a row with the court bureaucracy.
The judge says that, notwithstanding the First Amendment obligations to freedom of speech and assembly, “the owner has the right to adopt reasonable rules that permit it to maintain a clean, safe, publicly accessible space consonant with the responsibility it assumed to provide public access according to law.”
He says goes on to say that Occupy Wall Street lawyers “have 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.” He goes on:
To the extent that City law prohibits the erection of structures, the use of gas or other combustible materials, and the accumulation of garbage and human waste in public places, enforcement of the law and theo wner’s rules appears reasonable to permit the owner to maintain its space in a hygienic, safe, and lawful condition, and to prevent it from being liable by the City or others for violations of law,or in tort It also permits public access by those who live and work in the area. who are the intended beneficiaries of this zoning bonus.
The movants 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 and duties to maintain Zuccotti Park, or to the rights to public access of others who might wish to use the space safely.
Neither have the applicants shown a right to a temporary restraining order that would restrict the City’s enforcement of laws so as to promote public health and safety.
Therefore, the petitioner’s application for a temporary restraining order is denied.
I read the ruling and do not fully understand the logic behind the time, manner, and place restrictions argument on behalf of the judge. Why was it necessary to have the entire park completely vacated when it was more than possible for law enforcement to regulate the minor infractions? Surely the eviction of the entire park is not the least restrictive means for the government to uphold their legitimate and supposedly compelling interest of maintaining public health and safety. Furthermore, upholding said government interest surely wouldn’t mandate the excessively forceful total eviction of the park as we saw last night and it surely wasn’t necessary to restrict the press in order to do so.
There are legitimate arguments to be made on behalf of both parties but the logic behind the city’s justification seems to be “Why are we kicking you out? Because we said so.”
The regulations in place in most cities that prevent camping in public parks are there for one reason and one reason only: to keep the homeless out. They need you to work a shitty job so you can afford to live in a shitty rathole apartment and put up with laws/regulations that are ridiculously one-sided and favor the landlords. But I digress…
If you ask me, any law that prevents camping in a PUBLIC SPACE is stupid, because it is a public space, for use by the public, paid for by the public.
This is just one more way the moneyed interests in this country are attempting to keep the everyday person down. Also, I agree with everything Anna said.