Public Space Ordinances Used to Target Occupy Wall Street

Across the country, local authorities are turning to existing public space ordinances -- many of them oriented to criminalizing homelessness -- to clamp down on the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
October 20, 2011, 9am PDT | Michael Dudley
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Alternet examines what they call "absurd" attempts by municipal authorities to uproot or arrest "Occupy Wall Street" protesters:

"As Occupy Wall Street protests spring up in cities across the country, authorities are thinking up creative ways to contain this peaceful and inspiring uprising...Most cities have an anti-camping ordinance on the books that prohibits camping or sleeping in public spaces, particularly public parks, to minimize the risk of nighttime criminal activity. But the ordinances are frequently used to cleanse cities of the inconvenient and uncomfortable scenery of homeless people; police in San Francisco are known for enforcing the city's camping ordinance primarily against the homeless.

But now, all over the country, anti-camping ordinances are being used to arrest and deter protesters from occupying public spaces...Although laws and municipal ordinances vary from city to city, there is a consistency in the tactics being used to stifle the movement. More importantly, as demonstrated by the protesters at Zuccotti Park who kept strong in the face of a looming eviction that never came to fruition, these maneuvers are not working."

The laws include anti-sleeping laws; bans on umbrellas; bans on personal belongings in public space; "burning bans" against open flames; and laws against impeding pedestrian traffic.

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Published on Friday, October 14, 2011 in AlterNet
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