The New York judge that ruled on yesterday’s assault against the Occupy Wall Street activists in Zuccotti Park commented that the protesters, “have not demonstrated a first amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators and other installations.” Judge Stallman ruled. “Neither have the applicants shown a right to a temporary restraining order that would restrict the city’s enforcement of law so as to promote public health and safety.”
The comment begs the question as to whether the judge simply refused to adequately acknowledge the basic First Amendment aspect in this case, or the legal representatives for the movement failed to properly define the unique characteristics of the movement. Based upon the judge’s statement, the latter seems the obvious choice, at which point we can only wonder if the Occupy lawyers had the opportunity to make that distinction or if the judge refused to allow it.
The protesters, “have not demonstrated a first amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators and other installations,” said Stallman. But taken at face value his opinion is fundamentally flawed, an opening the Occupy people should and need to exploit fully. Their premiere argument lies in their name: Occupy. Occupation is not defined as a brief and transient effort, but as a sustained effort whose duration is dictated, again by definition, by the occupiers. Evidence the Right who eschewed any suggestion of leaving Iraq or Afghanistan over the last decade as cutting and running, and certainly not the decision of anyone but the United States to make.
Their First Amendment right to remain is explicit in their name. otherwise we can refer to them as, sy, “Just passing through Wall Street,” or “Fed up folks visiting Wall Street, but not lingering,” or “Let’s go to Wall Street but definitely not stay.” Instead, they are “Occupy Wall Street.” The name defines the movement. It prescribes the action and the place it will occupy. The name is the First Amendment assertion of the movement.
The structures, tents, kitchens, hospitals and library are likewise equally fundamental to the movement and directly support the intent of the protest by means of maintaining safe and healthy conditions within the camp. That speaks directly to Stallman’s statement that “the applicants (have not) shown a right to a temporary restraining order that would restrict the city’s enforcement of law so as to promote public health and safety.” The protesters have not constructed a shanty town, but erected tents, explicitly to protect their members from the elements, and to facilitate an adequate presence to maintain an occupation. The hospital is staffed by registered nurses, who have donated their energies to the cause.
Curious that police attempts to disrupt and discourage the protest through unprovoked violence (see https://900poundgorilla.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/attacks-and-intimidation-the-war-against-the-occupy-movement/ ) and the dumping of unsavory elements into the park were not presented in this case. The hyped and exaggerated incidence of crime, ballooned by outright falsifications and concoctions were used against the protesters and ruled on by the court, but the best defense remains in the name. By definition, Occupation is the essence of the argument.
Now the question that remains, if it is still possible to prevail on the strength of an argument or if the courts hear only their preconceptions and biases, or if they hear only what they are told to hear? More and more the courts are the tools of the wealthy, the corporations and powerful, rarely favoring indiviuals. Indeed, through the so-called financil collapse of 2007-2008 not a single person was indicted or arrested. Tens of billions were quite literally stolen by banks, financial instutions and corporations, either directly from the treasury or by draining 401K plans and pensions, all while the rich have grown obscenely wealthier. Yet, Occupying a park over outrage for those immoral and anti-American offenses by civilians demanding justice and reform is met by media indifference, partisan propaganda and riot police. Anyone see the insanity in all that?