By Bill Blum, Truthdig, November 16, 2011
From Oakland to Chapel Hill, from Portland to Zuccotti Park, the message to the Occupy movement is clear: It’s time to fold up your tents and retreat from the public square or be carted off to jail.
From coast to coast, protesters have responded to the edicts with largely passive physical resistance and, in some cities, court challenges rooted in the First Amendment and animated by the popular mythology surrounding the amendment’s depth and reach. The movement, we’re told, is shielded by the rights of freedom of speech and assembly and those rights trump whatever interests (whether legitimate or feigned) that municipalities may have in maintaining public health and safety.
It’s impossible at this early stage of the crackdown to predict how each local legal case will play out. Depending upon the precise wording of city ordinances, state statutes and the manner in which police raids are conducted, the Occupiers may score some litigation victories, such as the short-lived temporary restraining order issued by a state court judge after the early morning police attack Tuesday on Zuccotti Park in New York City. But most of the legal challenges are likely to end in defeat, as occurred in New York when another judge ruled after a lengthy hearing that the overnight camping must end even though protesters may return to the park. Continue reading