New York Judge Rules For City In Clearing Of Zuccotti Park

For the time being, there will be no overnight camping at Zuccotti Park

Much of the action over Occupy Wall Street today was taking place in New York State Supreme Court as protesters and their attorneys were attempting to get a Court Order permitting them to return to the park and camp out over night. That effort failed last this afternoon when a State Supreme Court Judge ruled for the city:

A judge backed up Mayor Bloomberg’s clean sweep of Zuccotti Park Tuesday, ruling that the city has the right to keep Occupy Wall Street protestors from camping out in what’s supposed to be a 24-hour open space for all of the public.

The ruling from the bench by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman will likely be appealed so it’s not yet clear whether the city will reopen the park and allow in protestors – without tents.

The city had argued that the protestors had made the park unsafe and dangerous by erecting a warren of tents that made the place a firetrap and kept police from coming inside to enforce the law.

Lawyers for the protestors argued that the city unfairly infringed on their First Amendment rights, noting that the city has allowed others to pitch tents for flea markets in city parks for months at a time without police interference.

And here’s The New York Times’ take on the ruling:

Lawyers for the protesters had argued that the city and the owner of Zuccotti Park had impinged on the protesters’ free-speech rights. The lawyers took particular exception to the fact that the landlord, Brookfield Properties, had imposed rules for use of the park after the protests were underway.

“They issued these rules after the activity started in order to try to limit the activity,” said Arthur Schwartz, a lawyer representing the Transport Workers Union, the Working Families Party and New York Communities for Change, organizations that have joined in the protesters’ cause.

A lawyer for Brookfield said that the company had no problem with people expressing their First Amendment rights in the park. But the lawyer, Douglas H. Flaum, said the protesters needed to be removed because their tents and other equipment posed a safety risk. He also said they preventing other people from using the park.

“It is not meant to be a tent city,” Mr. Flaum said, adding that Brookfield would welcome the protesters back without the tents. “There are very specific health and safety concerns.” The mayor, at his news conference in the morning, read a statement he had issued around 6 a.m. explaining the reasoning behind the sweep. “The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day,” the mayor said in the statement. “Ever since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with” because the protesters had taken over the park, “making it unavailable to anyone else.”

There’s likely to be an appeal, but that will take at least several days to be argued and I’m beginning to doubt that there’s much legal merit on the side of the protesters.

Here’s the decision, as I suspected Judge Stallman ruled that the rules imposed by the property owner and the city are a reasonable time, place, and manner regulation and thus permissible. I discussed the legal background behind these issues in an earlier post.

Order Denying Occupy Wall Street’s Request For TRO

FILED UNDER: US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Delmar says:

    The “Occupiers” need to move on and quit being so preoccupied with themselves. If not, there will be an increase in crime, disease, pollution, assaults on innocent citizens, damage to local businesses, influx of homeless and mentally ill persons, illegal drugs,predators, and those trying to escape the law. How does this help anyone? They are quickly becoming the 1% and the “guest” who is now a nuisance; a dangerous one.

  2. Ernieyeball says:

    “Lawyers for the protestors argued that the city unfairly infringed on their First Amendment rights, noting that the city has allowed others to pitch tents for flea markets in city parks for months at a time without police interference.”

    I have never been to NYC but it is on my “Bucket List”.
    Flea market sites that I have seen with tents and RV’s were set up that way so sellers could protect their wares. Sales did not take place after certain hours and the only “all night occupiers” at these sites were vendors.
    Is this the same as the squatters at Zucchini Park?

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    The 99% part of OWS was valid and the occupation got them some needed media attention. The problem is these types of protests will attract the homeless many of whom have mental health or drug issues. Of course it was also a magnate for the ever present anarchists. They should have voluntarily packed up their tents about three weeks in and concentrated on less disruptive activities.

  4. @Ron Beasley:

    The tactic wore out it’s usefulness awhile ago, I think. If they are going to become some kind of a serious political movement, forcing them out of the park may be just what they need. And I say that as someone who probably disagrees with them on a few things.

  5. rudderpedals says:

    At some point thart park reopens. What then?

  6. Ron Beasley says:

    @Doug Mataconis: As a 65 year old who opposed the Vietnam war (even while working for the Defense Department) I have always thought that the war protests alienated so much of the population that they actually extended the war.

  7. WR says:

    Doug: “There’s likely to be an appeal, but that will take at least several days to be argued and I’m beginning to doubt that there’s much legal merit on the side of the protesters.”

    Wow, that’s really a meaningful turnaround, seeing how you’ve been supporting the movement for so long.

  8. Eric Florack says:

    First, OWS doesn’t speak for most of America, period. The claim that they are the 99% suggests an agreement with their positions on things like private property, taxation and so on, that is simply not supported. At the very least the claim uses claims not in evidence. I think the disconnect more pronounced than that, but that will serve as a first step.

    Secondly, I question why government at any level is required to remove these morons from the park. The park is private property… which puts quite a different spin on things, than if this protest were happening, in say, Central Park.

    Third….

    The problem is these types of protests will attract the homeless many of whom have mental health or drug issues.

    It did that from the off since more than a few of the organizers, I suspect, are such people.

  9. Liberty60 says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Yes.

    Lets let the marketplace take care of it!

  10. anjin-san says:

    At the very least the claim uses claims not in evidence.

    This comes from someone with a long track record of both making wild claims and getting very quiet when asked to back them up.

    STILL waiting for you to back up your claim that Jerry Kellman is “an avowed communist”, or any other kind of communist for that matter. Why not come clean and admit your are simply throwing a little libel his way for political reasons? If you can’t, perhaps you should buy a tent…

  11. ponce says:

    OWS is back in Zuccotti park.

    Will any of the wingnuts who declared OWS done earlier today admit they wrong?

    Snippet from the “liberal” media: Diane Sawyer, who makes $15 million a year, demanding to know who was going to pay for cleaning up the mess!

  12. jpe says:

    No surprise at all. The argument that camping is expressive activity is a total loser, and has been rejected multiple times (including twice in previous Occupy suits). The argument is so bad it veers on the frivolous.

  13. jpe says:

    Snippet from the “liberal” media: Diane Sawyer, who makes $15 million a year, demanding to know who was going to pay for cleaning up the mess!

    What the city should do is fine the hell out of any arrested individuals and then sue to get the assets of the OWS. That $500k could go some of the way to defraying the costs of clean up.

  14. ponce says:

    What the city should do is fine the hell out of any arrested individuals and then sue to get the assets of the OWS.

    Never underestimate how much OWS disturbs the fringe right.

  15. Delmar says:

    @ponce: But what are they going to do there? More of the same? Nothing constructive. Many of the original OWS have left. The homeless, mentally ill, vagrants, criminals, and addicts have moved in and taken over. Purpose and mission gone, credibility shot. These are not the same people that started this. Maybe a few left, but not for long.

  16. ponce says:

    But what are they going to do there? More of the same?

    Hahaha,

    OWS and the topic of income inequality in America now dominates the wingnutosphere and the mainstream news, but OWS hasn’t accomplished anything!.

    That’s the second lamest attack on OWS after “OWS is spreading cholera!1!!1!!”

    You’d think the Koch Whores could come up with better lines considering the millions of dollars they’re getting.

    But I guess if the fringe right propagandists could come up with decent stuff they wouldn’t be trapped in the Fox News/talk radio/ rigfht wing blog ghetto.

  17. Ernieyeball says:

    @Ron Beasley: So if there had been less or no opposition to Lyndon Johnson’s and Nixon/Henry K’s policies we would (A) today occupy South Vietnam much like South Korea, (B) have bombed North Vietnam back into the Stone Age and occupied all of Vietnam (China would have loved that!)?????

  18. john personna says:

    There is a very interesting chart here called “incidence of same firm employment.” It’s about who the 1% work for, as opposed to the rest of us. Basically, the 1% are much more likely than the rest of us to be working for daddy. And, if they are dim-witted, they may talk about progress and hard work while they do it.

  19. john personna says:

    BTW, I see that memorandum is blog-rolling the OWS today.

    Last night BBC World News spent 10 of their 30 minutes on OWS and where it heads next.

    You may not like them, but it’s pretty bizarre to continue the claim that no one listens … even as *you* listen.

  20. john personna says:

    Wow, top story at google news is:

    Occupy Wall St. spreads across the United States

    54 cities?

  21. Rob in CT says:

    Basically, the 1% are much more likely than the rest of us to be working for daddy.

    I’m shocked, SHOCKED! to find nepotism going on here.

  22. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Nepotism is natural, but dangerous when it trends toward oligarchy.

  23. Barry says:

    @ponce: “Snippet from the “liberal” media: Diane Sawyer, who makes $15 million a year, demanding to know who was going to pay for cleaning up the mess! ”

    Reasonable – after all, she’s not in the group which is paying for cleaning up Wall St. She’s in the group which expects others to clean up their own messes.

  24. Barry says:

    @ponce: @jpe: “What the city should do is fine the hell out of any arrested individuals and then sue to get the assets of the OWS. That $500k could go some of the way to defraying the costs of clean up. ”

    That’d fit in with the right’s policies. Meanwhile, the looters and destroyers of trillions go unpunished.