__PCU //\_Free Assembly Project____
St.Louis MO - www.Free-Assembly.org
_//\_________________________________an Association of Volunteers__/
12 November 2012 ~ A Torrid Commentary ~
To: St. Louis Allies & Lawyers
Re: 'Occupy' Rights & Loser Law ~
Back-Talking the Slack on the Takedown's Anniversary
The big bust & takedown of Occupy St. Louis was a year ago
today, in the wee hours:
A large force of Police moved in on Kiener Plaza, forced out most
participants and arrested 27 who remained, then stood in phalanx at
the perimeter as Parks personnel broke down the whole camp and
trucked it all away. In fact the operation commenced the prior
afternoon, Veterans Day 11/11/11, presupposing that a flimsy
last-minute TRO filing to stop it in federal court would fail.
It was a done deal before the late ruling came down... only the
final formalities, busts & seizures pushed past midnight, as a crowd
protested but the rest of the city slept -- including you.
That day should be remembered darkly as a demise of civil
liberties in St. Louis, and a failure of its 'rights community' to
protect Public Assembly & Speech. Through the preceding weeks it was
made inevitable by the blithe disregard of lawyers & activists who
claim to know and care about such things, but could not grasp the
situation or muster any proactive response. I know this because our
organization was on the ground, getting the facts and foretelling the
End-Game from the start:
Letter to City: "First Amendment Notice" - 5oc11
to Parks Dept., 1no11 - "The 10/28 Draft Permit, as Proposed" I tried to engage cooperation, and got none... the mute absence
of known legal players telegraphed weakness in support, and Occupy
St.L was a sitting duck when the showdown came.
Through the ensuing months more opportunities have been blown
-- foremost the "Vigil for Economic Justice" initiative, crafted to
regain the constitutional high ground. We informed attorneys in
these circles and sought able support from the outset: The 3
proponents were committed to this honored form of expression, and
knew the need to set it up in accord with permit standards in public
Parks -- either for authorization to proceed, or for any
constitutional recourse if denied. Their proposal was sound, and the
unfolding facts were optimal for an 'as-applied' challenge, but they
got no timely help going in as special use Applicants, nor reliable
counsel in bringing claims to court.
Still they persisted and made a full record in their ambitious
move to join (and save) the failed TRO case in Federal court. When
the judge called for this to be filed as a separate case, all the
documents were fully prepared or easily adapted... then in seeking
new representation, they have put these ready filings on the table,
valuable stuff. This is the best Assembly case in the country,
positioned to redeem past losses and make important First Amendment
law. Yet the vaunted 'civil liberals' in St. Louis seem unable to
read or discuss it -- much less comprehend it, endorse it, or
A year later, public dissent has been swept from the parks...
the long-awaited citizen debate on Wall Street and our Economy is
unfulfilled, and expression on common ground is suppressed.
For people aspiring to democratic discourse & reform, it is
demoralizing to see rights curtailed and nothing done about it; for
acclaimed legal advocates, it is a perilous course of inaction:
The vain and fractious neglect of these issues leaves political
speech chilled in fear of arrest and reprisal, and the public forum
under de facto closure. In St. Louis, the emboldened Police stepped
on the 'Occupy Midwest Conference' with violence last March... a
strict Curfew has been newly posted in City Parks, and gatherings
draw surveillance. This is supposed to be the 'new normal' in First
Amendment policy -- repugnant to the Constitution, unacceptable in
the public interest.
My mom taught me to do the right thing, and my dad taught me
to do it right... and when the right thing must be done right, both
said Don't Quit. So did the great Arthur Kinoy, to me personally and
whenever it came to Constitutional endeavors::: his career is
examplary of "Law for the People" with defiance and guts, and
stepping up in decisive moments of need. 407 U.S. 297 (1972).
Any of you might still step up for the 'Vigil' case in St.
Louis... others could critique it and give input as-needed, or at
least show support. The pleadings are set forth for peer review,
seeking a consensus on its legal worth and feasibility, to break
through this stalemate & sad paradox:
This case was launched to galvanize the rights community on the
real issues of public assembly, in an effective fight... instead it
has only exposed our unpreparedness and divisions, so far.
An intelligent and civil conversation can commence at any
time -- but not for long, because this opportunity will not outlast
statutory limits, or more lazy dithering. If it is lost, things will
get more stupid and uncivil, all around... with basic liberties at
stake, it's better to be right than polite.
Gut check, RSVP, hard reckonings encouraged.
_scott c. addison__