Saturday, January 28, 2012

Occupy Wall Street: Zuccotti Park Lawsuit Update

January 28, 2012: Occupy Wall Street protesters have decided to drop a lawsuit challenging the rules that prohibited them from camping inside Zuccotti Park, their lawyers said on Tuesday.


One of the lawyers, Alan Levine, said that the protesters made the decision after rows of barricades, staffed by private security guards and surrounding the park, were removed on Jan. 10.


That move, Mr. Levine said, gave the protesters freer access to the park than they had had since the lawsuit was filed two months ago, and on Friday, the lawyers told the court that they were not moving forward.


“Once the barricades came down and the searches stopped and the protesters had unimpeded access to the park there seemed to be no reason to continue that litigation,” Mr. Levine said.


“If that changes we will be back in court.”


The barricades were taken down after three legal organizations wrote to the city and to the park’s owner, Brookfield Office Properties, saying that zoning laws required the company to provide unobstructed access to the park.


The letter also said that guards had conducted improper searches of some of those trying to enter the park.


Under an agreement with the city, Zuccotti Park is required to be open to the public 24 hours a day. In 1968, the developers of an office tower next to the park were permitted to add 500,000 square feet to their building in return for providing a public space, which was first named Liberty Plaza Park. It was renamed Zuccotti Park, after a Brookfield executive, in 2006.


The protesters started their legal action to challenge the camping prohibition almost immediately after the police cleared the park on Nov. 15, citing rules posted in September by Brookfield that forbade tents, sleeping bags and lying down.


At 6:30 that morning Justice Lucy Billings of State Supreme Court signed a temporary restraining order directing the city and Brookfield to allow protesters to re-enter Zuccotti Park along with tents and other items until a further hearing could be held.


Mr. Levine said that high-ranking police commanders responded by declaring the park closed to everyone.


During oral arguments later that day, lawyers for the protesters asked Justice Michael D. Stallman to extend the order by Judge Billings, arguing that the Brookfield rules prohibiting tents were unconstitutional.


But Justice Stallings declined to extend the order, writing that the rules set up by Brookfield were not unreasonable and adding that the protesters “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.”


Sheryl Neufeld, a lawyer for the city’s law department, said the protesters’ withdrawal of the suit was correct, “as it has no merit.”


A spokeswoman for Brookfield declined to comment on the withdrawal of the suit.


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Who are the worst banks in America?


Bank of America
Citibank
JPMorgan Chase
Wells Fargo

And, did you know that Experian sells your sensitive, personal data to convicted criminals and fugitives from justice?





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