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Occupy Boston Decision

Occupy Boston Decision

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Published by Richard Vetstein
Today, Massachusetts Superior Court Justice Frances A. McIntyre issued a ruling clearing the way for the eviction of the Occupy Boston protest which has taken over Dewey Square in downtown Boston. Judge McIntyre had originally granted the protesters a temporary restraining order sustaining the protests, but after reviewing evidence and hearing legal argument, she has changed her mind.
Today, Massachusetts Superior Court Justice Frances A. McIntyre issued a ruling clearing the way for the eviction of the Occupy Boston protest which has taken over Dewey Square in downtown Boston. Judge McIntyre had originally granted the protesters a temporary restraining order sustaining the protests, but after reviewing evidence and hearing legal argument, she has changed her mind.

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Published by: Richard Vetstein on Dec 07, 2011
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31
COMMONWEALTHOFMASSACHUSETTSSUFFOLK,ss.SUPERIORCOURTCIVILACTIONNO.11-4152-GOCCUpyBOSTON,KRISTOPHERMARTIN,SASHASAGAN,NOAHMCKENNA,ANDJENNIESEIDIWAND,Plaintiffs,
vs.
CITYOFBOSTON,CITYOFBOSTONPOLICEDEPARTMENT,
by
andthroughPOLICECOMMISSIONEREDWARDDAVIS,andtheROSEFITZGERALDKENNEDYGREENWAYCONSERVANCY,INC.,DefendantsMEMORANDUMOFDECISIONANDORDERONTHEPLAINTIFFS'MOTIONFORATEMPORARYRESTRAININGORDERANDAPRELIMINARYINJUNCTIONIntroduction
ThisproceedingarisesoutofthedemonstrationknownasOccupyBoston,whichoccupiedDeweySquareinBostononSeptember30,2011.Protestershavebeenlivingonthesitesince,andhopetocontinuetodoso,andgovernthemselvesasanexemplarydemocracy.PlaintiffsclaimthattheiroccupationofthesiteandthecommunitytheyhaveestablishedthereonareprotectedbytheFirstAmendment.Theyseekapreliminaryinjunctionagainsttheirremovalbythedefendants.Buttheinjunctionisdeniedbecause,whileOccupyBostonprotestersmaybeexercisingtheirexpressiverights'duringtheirprotest,theyhavenoprivilegeundertheFirstAmendmenttoseizeandhold.thelandonwhichtheysit.Thedistinctioniskey..
 
The
occupation,
thatis,theseizingandholdingoflandoftheCommonwealthisseparateanddistinctconductfromthe
livingactivities,
thatis,thesettingupoftents,sleepingovernight,eatingandgoverningonthesite."Occupation"speaksofboldness,outrage,andawillingnesstotakepersonalriskbutitdoesnotcarrytheplaintiffs'professedmessage.Essentially,itisviewedasahostileact,anassertionofpossessionagainsttherightsofanother.Theactofoccupation,thiscourthasdeterminedasamatteroflaw,isnotspeech.Norisitimmunefromcriminalprosecutionfortrespassorothercrimes.However,thesettingupofthetents,sleeping,andgovernanceonDeweySquareisexpressiveconductandsymbolic.Nevertheless,itissubjecttoCityandParkregulationsandrestrictions.Thus,theConservancy'sprohibitiononsleepingovernightandotherrestrictionsonDeweySquarearevalid,andapplicabletoOccupyBoston.Theprotestersareobligatedunderthelawtoabidebythoseregulations,aswellastheordersoftheCityofBoston,theBostonPoliceDepartment,andtheRoseFitzgeraldKennedyGreenwayConservancy.Thisdecisionclearsthewaybutdoesnotordertheplaintiffsandotherprotesterstovacatethesiteandrequestpermissiontosetuptentsorotherequipmentforexpressivepurposes,shouldOccupyBostonwishtocontinueitsassociationwiththeRoseKennedyGreenwayConservancy.OvernightsleepingandlivingatDeweySquarearenotoptionsundertheConservancyguidelines,however.Forthesereasonsandthosethatfollow,theplaintiffs'MotionforaPreliminaryInjunctionis
DENIED.
 
PROCEDURALBACKGROUND
AfterahearingonNovember16,2011,thiscourtgrantedtheplaintiffs'motionforatemporaryrestrainingorder.
1
Thetextisinthemargin.'PlaintiffsnowseekapreliminaryinjunctionextendingthatordertopreventtheCityofBostonandBostonPoliceDepartmentfromremovingthemfromDeweySquare.Filedwiththismotionwastheplaintiffs'complaintinwhichtheyseekadeclaratoryjudgment.
In
additiontoapermanentinjunction,theyseekadeclarationoflawthattheyareentitledtocontinuetopeacefullyoccupyDeweySquare,thatthetrespassandunlawfulassemblystatutesdonotapplytothem,andthattheConservancy'sParkUseGuidelinesviolatetheirFirstAmendmentrights.AlimitedevidentiaryhearingwasconductedonDecember1,2011.Allpartiesfiledaffidavitswhichareevidenceinthecase;theaffidavitsarelargelyundisputed.Thecourtmakesfactualfindingsbelowandthenexplainsthepertinentlawrelieduponinreachingadecision.
FACTUALBACKGROUND
OccupyBostonaspirestocreateamoreperfectdemocracyonpublicland.Developedasparkland,the
locusinquo
isahundred-footwidemedianstrip,whichcoversaninterstatehighwaytunnelandisboundedbyanexitrampandheavilytraffickedstreets.
It
isoperatedbytheRoseFitzgeraldKennedyGreenwayConservancy,Inc.andisknownasDeweySquare.'
I
Whenthisjudgeissuedthetemporaryorder,itwasonapreliminaryshowing,onlessthantwenty-fourhoursnoticetothedefendants,andwithonlytheplaintiffshavingarguedtheFirstAmendmentissuesatplay.Thesituationonthegroundhasevolvedconsiderablysincethenandthelegalissueshavenowbeenfullybriefedbyallparties.
2
TheCityofBostonandtheCityofBostonPoliceDepartmentareorderedtorefrainfromanypoliceactionwhichwouldremovetheindividuals,tents,andpersonalbelongingoftheOccupyBostonprotestersfrom
Dewey-
Square,absentemergencycircumstancesincludingbutnotlimitedtomedicalcircumstances,fire,or.outbreakofviolence,atanytimebeforethiscourthasdecidedthemotionforapreliminaryinjunctionbrought
by
.theseplaintiffs...
3
TheRoseFitzgeraldGreenwayConservancyisaprivate,non-profitcorporationandisdesignatedby.statutetooperateandmaintaintheRoseFitzgeraldKennedyGreenway'andother
parksand
openspaces
in
Boston.TheGreenwayisachainoffivepublicparksextendingapproximatelyonemilethroughdowntownBostonbetween
.3

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