Adonis Diaries

Lawsuits over free speech, again and again: Cities that broke up Occupy camps face lawsuits

Posted on: December 27, 2011

Lawsuits over free speech: Cities that broke up Occupy camps face lawsuits

For the time being, most major Occupy Wall Street encampments in the U.S. have been dispersed, but regrouping around the corners. City governments are facing a flurry of lawsuits in which protesters are asserting their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly and challenging authorities’ use of force to break up tent cities.

In this photo from Nov.18,  Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray to move Occupy UC Davis protesters while blocking their exit from the school’s quad in Davis, Calif. (The Enterprise, Wayne Tilcock, File / Associated Press )

  • ( The Enterprise, Wayne Tilcock, File / Associated Press ) - FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2011 file photo, University of California, Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray to move Occupy UC Davis protesters while blocking their exit from the school’s quad in Davis, Calif. Most major Occupy Wall Street encampments in the U.S. have been dispersed, but they live on in a flurry of lawsuits in which protesters are asserting their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly and challenging authorities’ use of force to break up tent cities.
  • ( The Tribune, Jane Tyska / Associated Press ) - FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2011 file photo, debris is strewn throughout the Oakland Occupy encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza after Oakland Police disbanded the tent community in Oakland, Calif. Most major Occupy encampments have been dispersed, but they live on in a flurry of lawsuits in which protesters are asserting their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly and challenging authorities’ mass arrests and use of force to break up tent cities.
  • ( Darryl Bush, File / Associated Press ) - FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2011 file photo, Occupy Oakland protesters run from tear gas deployed by police at 14th Street and Broadway in Oakland, Calif. The National Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California sued the Oakland Police Department in federal court in November, saying police and other agencies violated demonstrators’ Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force _ including “flash-bang” grenades _ against demonstrators who posed no safety threat. The suit says officials also violated their First Amendment rights to assemble and demonstrate.
Yvette Felarca is among those suing campus police and administration officials at the University of California, Berkeley, after officers forcefully dispersed a group of Occupy protesters and others rallying for public education last month. Felarca, a middle school teacher and organizer with the civil rights organization “By Any Means Necessary” filed the suit. Felacra said: “I was standing, arms linked with other demonstrators’, before a line of police officers. The police moved in after some tents were set up on a lawn. I was chanting and yelling when a police officer hit me in the throat, in the ribs, abdomen and back with his baton, and I watched others bear repeated blows”.  She resumed: “The brutality was absolutely designed to chill the speech of students in the movement and literally try to beat and terrorize our right to criticize, to think critically and to act on that criticism.” The university has called it “disconcerting” that the suit contains “so many inaccuracies.”
Sobel, of the National Lawyers Guild, is planning a lawsuit in the case of the pepper-spraying by campus police of peaceful protesters at the University of California, Davis, video footage of which went viral.Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, called the lawsuits an important check on police power. She noted that authorities haven’t been uniformly excessive around the country, but pointed in New York City to mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge — which are under litigation — as well as the pepper-spraying of several women and the dark-of-night breakup of Zuccotti Park.

Donna Lieberman said that her group has been concerned for years about police tactics, but that the response to the Occupy movement shines a light on them in a way that “engages and offends a new sector of the public.” She predicted there will be other lawsuits about excessive force, civil rights violations and mostly likely people’s rights to get back into Zuccotti, which she said police have blocked from public usage with their pens.

Donna  said: “I think what’s been happening with Occupy is so reminiscent of what happened during the Republican National Convention in 2008, as people get together to engage in that most American of pastimes — protest — it almost always generates a defensive and repressive response from law enforcement. Occupy is no exception.”

Gene Policinski, executive director of the First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tenn., said police overreacted to the Occupy movement in some cities, which probably earned protesters some new support. Still, he noted, protesters’ First Amendment rights are not without limitation.  Gene said: “We’ve always had to balance our rights. No one can really claim you have an unfettered unlimited First Amendment rights. The courts are there to say, wait a minute, that goes too far, or that’s OK. It is part of that give and take. Of course we all wish our rights were never intruded upon.”

Note 1: You may read https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/one-sided-non-violent-revolution-even-in-democratic-systems/

Note 2: Article reported by Niedowski from Providence, R.I. Associated Press writer Deepti Hajela in New York contributed.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

December 2011
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Blog Stats

  • 1,384,133 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 731 other followers

%d bloggers like this: