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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

VIDEO- Courts To Determine Fate Of New York Occupiers After Police Remove Them From Zuccotti

By Susan Duclos

Update in another thread here with Brookfield's (management company for owners of Zuccotti Park)statement.

[Update 4:47] Petition to extend restraining order DENIED. #OWS loses judgment. No more living in the Park. Link to follow as soon as it is posted. PDF to ruling here.

The request for an extension of Judge Billings restraining order on the City to prevent them from evicting #OWS Occupiers has been denied.

From PDF of Judge Stallman's ruling:

Upon the foregoing papers and after oral argument in open court by the parties' counsel and intervenors (see Transcript, Robert Portas, Court Reporter), it is hereby ORDERED that petitioner's application for an extension ofthe temporary restraining order granted by Justice Lucy Billings on November 15, 2011 at 6:30 a.m. is denied;

More from page 4 of the ruling:

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, orto 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 law so as to promote public health and safety.

[Update 4:15pm] New sign posted at Zucotti barricades, photo below:

Click photo to enlarge

[Update 4:00] No ruling yet despite premature cheering from #OWS supporters quoting earlier ruling.

[Update 3:00pm] Embeddable letter from Brookfield, dated November 14, 2011, to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, RE: Zuccotti Park.

[Update 1:54pm] Judge: I'll consider. Hope to have decision by 3.

[Update 1:49] NYC Lawyer "Tents aren't the message; tents are to keep protesters from getting cold." (Macfathom)

[Update 1:45pm] New York City Lawyer, Sheryl Neufeld, cites photos showing public safety issues stating "The rules are content-neutral rules," and rules "were promulgated after the occupation took hold, but they have nothing to do with the message." (Ax)

[Update 1:38pm] Judge asks #OWS lawyer "Does the absence of preexisting rules preclude new rules, even as owner may face liability?" (Via Macfathom on Twitter) Answer from Levine: no, they can adopt rules, but they have to be least drastic rules possible."

[Update 1:25pm ET]Judge asks Brookfield lawyer: is it your position that tents have no 1st amendment function here? Answer, yes. Furthermore according to Brookefield lawyer: We are not a state actor, so no 1st amendment obligations.

[Update - 11:21pm ET] Reuters reporter, Joseph Ax at hearing, via Twitter: "Douglas Flaum, lawyer for Brookfield, which owns Zuccotti: "We are not in any way trying to stop speech." He cites health and safety."

[Update 1:12pm ET] Eyewitness News via Twitter: "lawyer for owner of #ZucottiPark making his case before judge in #OWS eviction case. Says more rules needed."

[Update 1:03pm ET] Via Ben Smith (Politico) via Twitter: "Brookfield lawyer says protesters can return to Zuccotti, but can't erect tents and live there."

[Update - 12:58pm ET] Hearing has started and the case has been assigned to Judge Stallman.

Text of Bloomberg's statement below the post as an update.

The video above is of Michael Bloomberg's press conference announcing the removal of the occupiers from Zuccotti Park at the request of the the Owner's management company Brookfield.

Instantly, lawyers for the occupiers filed for a restraining order from the courts which they got, but at the time another hearing with a different judge was set for 11:30 am ET which will determine the issue. (Source)

Bloomberg said it was his call to move in on the protesters, after reports of lawlessness and the injury of an EMS worker trying to assist a mentally ill man.

“The final decision to act was mine, and mine alone," he said at a press conference. “Inaction was not an option.”

He said the city planned all along to let the anti-greed movement return to Zuccotti as soon as it was cleaned — but without the trappings of the tent city.

But in a case of one-upsmanship, lawyers for Occupy Wall Street got a judge to sign an order at 6:30 a.m. that explicitly said they should be allowed in the park with “tents and other property.”

A hearing was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. It appeared that Billings would not be the judge for that proceeding and that a new one would be randomly chosen about 10:30 a.m.

Officials said if the city and Brookfield prevail in court, security would stop anyone from entering the park with tents or tarps.

Approximately 200 arrests were made including City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, a Democrat who represents northern Manhattan, most were charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Mayor Bloomberg appears to be in a wait-and-see mode right now until after the 11:30am hearing.

As are the upcoming updates......... [Live Updates are being posted here and at following post]

The following is Mayor Bloomberg's statement on the cleaning and re-opening of Zuccotti Park.

“At one o’clock this morning, the New York City Police Department and the owners of Zuccotti Park notified protestors in the park that they had to immediately remove tents, sleeping bags and other belongings, and must follow the park rules if they wished to continue to use it to protest. Many protestors peacefully complied and left. At Brookfield’s request, members of the NYPD and Sanitation Department assisted in removing any remaining tents and sleeping bags. This action was taken at this time of day to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park, and to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood.

“Protestors were asked to temporarily leave the park while this occurred, and have been told that they will be free to return to the park once Brookfield finishes cleaning it later this morning. Protestors – and the general public – are welcome there to exercise their First Amendment rights, and otherwise enjoy the park, but will not be allowed to use tents, sleeping bags, or tarps and, going forward, must follow all park rules.

“The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day. Ever since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with, as the park has been taken over by protestors, making it unavailable to anyone else.

“From the beginning, I have said that the City had two principal goals: guaranteeing public health and safety, and guaranteeing the protestors’ First Amendment rights.

“But when those two goals clash, the health and safety of the public and our first responders must be the priority.

“That is why, several weeks ago the City acted to remove generators and fuel that posed a fire hazard from the park.

“I have become increasingly concerned – as had the park’s owner, Brookfield Properties – that the occupation was coming to pose a health and fire safety hazard to the protestors and to the surrounding community. We have been in constant contact with Brookfield and yesterday they requested that the City assist it in enforcing the no sleeping and camping rules in the park. But make no mistake – the final decision to act was mine.

“The park had become covered in tents and tarps, making it next to impossible to safely navigate for the public, and for first responders who are responsible for guaranteeing public safety. The dangers posed were evident last week when an EMT was injured as protestors attempted to prevent him and several police officers from helping a mentally ill man who was menacing others. As an increasing number of large tents and other structures have been erected, these dangers have increased. It has become increasingly difficult even to monitor activity in the park to protect the protestors and the public, and the proliferation of tents and other obstructions has created an increasing fire hazard that had to be addressed.

“Some have argued to allow the protestors to stay in the park indefinitely – others have suggested we just wait for winter and hope the cold weather drove the protestors away – but inaction was not an option. I could not wait for someone in the park to get killed or to injure another first responder before acting. Others have cautioned against action because enforcing our laws might be used by some protestors as a pretext for violence – but we must never be afraid to insist on compliance with our laws.

“Unfortunately, the park was becoming a place where people came not to protest, but rather to break laws, and in some cases, to harm others. There have been reports of businesses being threatened and complaints about noise and unsanitary conditions that have seriously impacted the quality of life for residents and businesses in this now-thriving neighborhood. The majority of protestors have been peaceful and responsible. But an unfortunate minority have not been – and as the number of protestors has grown, this has created an intolerable situation.

“No right is absolute and with every right comes responsibilities. The First Amendment gives every New Yorker the right to speak out – but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park or otherwise take it over to the exclusion of others – nor does it permit anyone in our society to live outside the law. There is no ambiguity in the law here – the First Amendment protects speech – it does not protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space.

“Protestors have had two months to occupy the park with tents and sleeping bags. Now they will have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments.

“Let me conclude by thanking the NYPD, FDNY, and the Department of Sanitation for their professionalism earlier this morning. Thank you.”

You can find all WuA's Occupier antics posts at the class warfare label page here.