Camp out for shopping OK, but not to protest, it seems
Summary of story from The Guardian, December 3, 2011
Civil rights lawyers are ramping up their fight to halt Occupy evictions around the USA, in the face of concerted efforts by city officials to clear the streets of the encampments.
Throughout the country, local authorities are citing health and safety concerns and invoking obscure municipal codes as pretexts for clampdowns, according to the National Lawyers Guild (NLG).
This week saw two of the largest occupations, in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, cleared, while the first and most symbolic occupation of Occupy Wall Street in New York, was cleared amid violent clashes between police and protesters in mid-November.
Lawyers have, at least temporarily, fought off evictions in Boston, Augusta, Maine and Nashville, Tennessee, citing first amendment rights to protest.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the co-chair of the NLG Mass Defense Committee, said: “[The authorities] claim there are these urgent health and safety reasons.
“The fact that they are having multiple conference points and discussions would suggest this is not an urgent local safety matter.
“Why are they being treated like criminals? People camp out before a major movie screening or outside stores at Thanksgiving.
“The difference is that one group of people are engaged in a constitutionally protected and cherished activity. The others want a sale.”