Judge Issues Temporary Restraining Order Protecting Rights of Occupy Boston Demonstrators

November 16, 2011 5:09 pm

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Following Heavy-Handed Crackdowns in Other Cities, ACLU and National Lawyers Guild Sought Protection for Rights of Free Speech, Assembly, Petition, and Association in Boston

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BOSTON — Judge Frances A. McIntyre today granted a temporary restraining order to prevent the City of Boston or Boston Police from taking any action to remove the tents or other belongings of Occupy Boston demonstrators at Dewey Square in the downtown financial district. The order appears to be one of the first times that the rights of Occupy demonstrators have been protected proactively, and applies unless there is a fire, medical emergency, or outbreak of violence. McIntyre set a further hearing on a preliminary injunction for Dec. 1, unless the city appeals or enters an order for removal, and ordered the city and the protesters to enter mediation, over objections from city attorneys.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and National Lawyers Guild-Massachusetts Chapter, through attorney Howard Cooper of Todd & Weld, filed a motion for the order yesterday, seeking to head off the possibility that Occupy demonstrators would be forcibly removed, as they have been in Portland, Ore., Oakland, Calif., New York, and other cities.

“Freedom of speech, association, assembly and the right to petition won a victory in court today,” said Carol Rose, ACLU of Massachusetts executive director. “It is vital that Boston show the rest of the nation–even the world–how to respond appropriately when people rise up to petition their government for a change in direction.”

The suit, filed in Superior Court, sought a Declaration from the Court recognizing the right to peaceful protest and assembly under the U.S. Constitution and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, as well as an injunction to prevent police from staging another night-time raid, such as the one that began Oct. 10, 2011 and continued into the early morning hours of Oct. 11, when the Boston Police conducted a mass arrest of 141 people in the middle of the night.

Although Boston police have said that they had no immediate plans to evict the Occupy Boston protesters, Boston Police Department spokesperson Elaine Driscoll told boston.com on Nov. 15, 2011, that, “It’s difficult to say what will happen moving forward, but we will make those decisions on a daily basis.”

Copies of legal documents are available here:

More information from the ACLU of Massachusetts about the rights of demonstrators is available here:

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