The First Amendment allows American citizens the freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble. This portion of the Bill of Rights has been the cornerstone of Occupy Wall Street, which started two months ago when swarms of concerned people took over Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to protest the drastic inequalities between the rich and poor.
The movement has since spread to similar occupations around the country and globe, resulting in civil unrest that some government officials are not too fond of. Despite the occupiers’ right to assemble, law enforcement officials have begun unearthing rarely used legal loopholes to evict protesters. Most recently, Zuccotti Park was temporarily cleared out during a late night raid to clean up the grounds. Although protesters were allowed to return, they were unable to bring along tents and sleeping bags due to city ordinances. AlterNet compiled 12 of the most absurd laws used to stop the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Fortunately for the Occupy Wall Street protesters in NYC, the privately owned Zuccotti Park is open 24 hours a day, unlike city-owned parks that are usually closed in the late night to early morning hours. However, in city and state-owned parks occupied by protesters throughout the country, authorities are using park curfews to their advantage. Just after 3am on the morning of Friday, October 14, Denver police raided the Occupy Denver encampment citing an 11pm to 5am curfew at state parks, making at least 21 arrests. A similar 11pm curfew in Iowa led to 32 arrests on October 9. The same thing happened at Occupy Sacramento.
No Sitting or Lying Down
The San Francisco Police Department informed protesters that they were in violation of a sit-lie law that prohibits sitting or laying down on San Francisco sidewalks between 7am and 11pm. This criminal offense can result in a fine starting at $50 and possibly lead to jail time.
Want to know what other legal loopholes are being used to thwart the Occupy Wall Street movement? Click here to read the rest on AlterNet.