Occupy Wall Street Sues Cities For Unlawful Evictions

The Occupy Wall Street movement started as a handful of people camping in public spaces. OWS chose to establish itself in this way to make a public commentary about the people’s need to reoccupy both the physical and virtual commons.

But for some, these encampments were eyesores, public nuisances, and an inconvenient reminder that millions of poor and suffering people have been marginalized by corrupt political and economic policies. So many cities, with help and encouragement from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, used public tax dollars to force protesters out of their camp.

Now, almost four months into the Occupy Wall Street movement, camping occupations in many major cities have been permanently evicted. Although the Mayors who ordered these evictions probably thought OWS would die without 24-hour demonstrations, they grossly misjudged the movement’s capacity for virtual organization and discussion. They also misjudged OWS’s legal prowess.

Protesters have filed a flurry of lawsuits in state and federal courts from coast to coast. While the mainstream media is happy to forget the infringement of Constitutional Rights and police brutality that greeted peaceful protesters in cities like New York and Oakland, the legal teams representing Occupy Wall Street have not.

“When I think about the tents as an expression of the First Amendment here, I compare it to Tahrir Square in Egypt,” said Carol Sobel, co-chairwoman of the National Lawyers Guild’s Mass Defense Committee. “Our government is outraged when military forces and those governments come down on the demonstrators. But they won’t extend the same rights in this country,” she said. “They praise that as a fight for democracy, the values we treasure. It comes here and these people are riffraff.”

The eviction of Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park was one of the most hotly contested evictions. Police deliberately raided the camp in the middle of the night, destroying personal property, the medical tent and kitchen, and confiscating thousands of books that had been donated to the OWS library. The next morning, 11 members of the New York City Council condemned the eviction and mass arrests, and media figures chastised the NYPD for blocking press access during the eviction.

While many of the plaintiffs in these cases feel that these lawsuits make an important statement about free speech and the preservation of civil rights, it’s important to remember that the First Amendment won’t absolve them of questionable behavior during protests.

Gene Policinski, executive director of the First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tenn., said police overreacted to the Occupy movement in some cities, which probably earned protesters some new support. Still, he noted, protesters’ First Amendment rights are not without limitation.

“We’ve always had to balance our rights,” he said. “No one can really claim you have an unfettered unlimited First Amendment rights. The courts are there to say, wait a minute, that goes too far, or that’s OK. It is part of that give and take. Of course we all wish our rights were never intruded upon.”

Related Reading:

30 Journalists Arrested Covering Occupy Movement

Media Blackout During OWS Eviction

Police List Occupy London As A Terrorist Organization

Image Credit: Flickr – shankbone


Sound Mind
Ronald E6 years ago

Keep up the good work OWS! You anti-OWS'rs can kiss the patootoes of the REAL 99%rs.

Zee Kallah
Past Member 6 years ago

You never fail until you stop trying.

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

A speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, 1967, a declaration not unlike our own,

For a complete version, go to:


What I'm saying to you this morning is communism forgets that life is individual. (Yes) Capitalism forgets that life is social. (Yes, Go ahead) And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis. (Speak) [applause] It is found in a higher synthesis (Come on) that combines the truths of both. (Yes) Now, when I say questioning the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. (All right) These are the triple evils that are interrelated.

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

Continued from Above:

And if you will let me be a preacher just a little bit. (Speak) One day [applause], one night, a juror came to Jesus (Yes sir) and he wanted to know what he could do to be saved. (Yeah) Jesus didn't get bogged down on the kind of isolated approach of what you shouldn't do. Jesus didn't say, "Now Nicodemus, you must stop lying." (Oh yeah) He didn't say, "Nicodemus, now you must not commit adultery." He didn't say, "Now Nicodemus, you must stop cheating if you are doing that." He didn't say, "Nicodemus, you must stop drinking liquor if you are doing that excessively." He said something altogether different, because Jesus realized something basic (Yes): that if a man will lie, he will steal. (Yes) And if a man will steal, he will kill. (Yes) So instead of just getting bogged down on one thing, Jesus looked at him and said, "Nicodemus, you must be born again." [applause]

In other words, "Your whole structure (Yes) must be changed." [applause] A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years will "thingify" them and make them things. (Speak) And therefore, they will exploit them and poor people generally economically. (Yes) And a nation that will exploit economically will have to have foreign investments and everything else, and it will have to use its military might to protect them. All of these problems are tied together. (Yes) [applause]

What I'm saying today is that we must go from this convention and say, "America, you must be born again!

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

Continued from Above:

Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds. (All right)

Let us be dissatisfied (Yes) until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice. (Yes sir)

Let us be dissatisfied (Yes) until those who live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security.

Let us be dissatisfied (Yes) until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history (Yes), and every family will live in a decent, sanitary home.

Let us be dissatisfied (Yes) until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality integrated education.

Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity.

Let us be dissatisfied (All right) until men and women, however black they may be, will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not on the basis of the color of their skin. (Yeah) Let us be dissatisfied. [applause]

Let us be dissatisfied (Well) until every state capitol (Yes) will be housed by a governor who will do justly, who will love mercy, and who will walk humbly with his God.

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

Continued from Above:

Let us be dissatisfied [applause] until from every city hall, justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. (Yes)

Let us be dissatisfied (Yes) until that day when the lion and the lamb shall lie down together (Yes), and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid.

Let us be dissatisfied (Yes), and men will recognize that out of one blood (Yes) God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth. (Speak sir)

Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout, "White Power!" when nobody will shout, "Black Power!" but everybody will talk about God's power and human power. [applause]

And I must confess, my friends (Yes sir), that the road ahead will not always be smooth. (Yes) There will still be rocky places of frustration (Yes) and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. (Yes) And there will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. (Well) Our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted. (Yes) We may again, with tear-drenched eyes, have to stand before the bier of some courageous civil rights worker whose life will be snuffed out by the dastardly acts of bloodthirsty mobs. (Well) But difficult and painful as it is (Well), we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future. (Well) And as we continue our charted course, we may gain con

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

Continued from Above:

Stony the road we trod (Yes),

Bitter the chastening rod

Felt in the days

When hope unborn had died. (Yes)

Yet with a steady beat,

Have not our weary feet

Come to the place

For which our fathers sighed?

We have come over a way

That with tears has been watered. (Well)

We have come treading our paths

Through the blood of the slaughtered.

Out from the gloomy past,

Till now we stand at last (Yes)

Where the bright gleam

Of our bright star is cast.

Let this affirmation be our ringing cry. (Well) It will give us the courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. (Yes) When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair (Well), and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights (Well), let us remember (Yes) that there is a creative force in this universe working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil (Well), a power that is able to make a way out of no way (Yes) and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. (Speak)

Let us realize that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Let us realize that William Cullen Bryant is right: "Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again." Let us go out realizing that the Bible is right: "Be not deceived. God is not mocked. (Oh yeah) Whatsoever a man soweth (Yes), that (Yes) shall he also reap." This is our hope for th

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

Good members of Care2, Meet George Vreeland Hill, a new plant of the right, a true Tea Bagger, a want-a-be 1%er. It shall never be, and yet he so hopes.

I am anxious for him to go up against Diane O. the clash of the mini Titans, two 1% want-a-be's.

Is it possible that it is actually D.O. in disguise, only time will tell.

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

George Vreeland Hill, Thanks for your style of humor, or was it your attempt to appear intelligent.

Guess what? All you have proven is how stupid you actually are, I don't mean that as an insult, but an observation. I read your"words" 3X are each time I did, they made less sense.

My suggestion to you, go back to your handlers at Homeland of Insecurity and tells that you failed to impress or suppress. It is then that you will realize how much the 1% actually care for your ilk, a classic traitor to the Republic.

I would wager that you were that kid trying who was always trying to impress your teacher by being the class snitch.

You should have stayed with that security/watchman job, back in New Hampshire. I see that you have risen to Cyber Con, with your plea to have people sent you donations. Border line illegal.

There is a need for security guards even in Beverly Hills, Try Border Patrol, their entry qualifications are low and you need not have much of an education. Sounds perfect for you.

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

Geo Vreeland Hill, not bad for your 1st day on Care2.

The Occupy Movement needs to expand its voice.
Each of us are to be counted among the 99%.
Someone need to speak for those who believe that they have no voice.
To like to Rich, is to suggest that one envies the Rich.
Few of the Rich started from nothing.
Steve Jobs parents were not poor, they were part of the 99%, the Middle Class.
To suggest that they did not complain is Infantile logic.
We all work out our ideas, some are more successful than others.
The top 1% take jobs away from the Middle Class, to suggest otherwise goes to prove ones lack of education. The Middle Class is shrinking.
The majority of Americans jobs were started on Main Street, not Wall Street.
They were bought out or forced out by the wealthy, goes to the point about education.
Stating that the 1% is an Enemy of the people, is a correct statement.
The truth is that it has always been the American people, the 99% who made America Great, the rich just line their pockets on the backs of the citizens.
And yet, if this "person" were to be asked a single question about the Movement, that "person" would draw a blank, perhaps that is a normal condition.
Quite the opposite, our 1st goal was to see that all Americans come to realize their voice.

Continued Below: