HECTOR AMEZCUA / HAMEZCUA@SACBEE.COMLisa Smith closes a tent Monday in Sacramento's Cesar Chavez Plaza as the Occupy Sacramento protest continues. All but one of the 75 protesters arrested have been charged with violating state law and city code for staying in the park after curfew.
PUBLISHED TUESDAY, NOV. 01, 2011
Attorneys working on behalf of Occupy Sacramento protesters have filed a federal lawsuit contending the First Amendment free assembly rights of participants are being violated by the 11 p.m. curfew for Cesar Chavez Park.
To date, 79 arrests have been made of people attempting to occupy the park past the posted time limit. The Occupy Sacramento protest is modeled after the Occupy Wall Street protests that have spread worldwide. Sacramento is one of a handful of city that has never allowed protesters to maintain their occupation overnight.
Attorney Mark Merin argued last week that while the government can limit free speech and free assembly, the city's rational does not meet the "reasonable" test.
The city has maintained that clearing the park in the evening is within its legal rights.
The federal lawsuit will hinge on whether the protesters can prove they're being discriminated against, said two prominent First Amendment scholars.
Jesse H. Choper, a law professor at Berkeley's Boalt Hall cited a similar case in which protesters were not allowed to stay in Washington D.C.'s Lafayette Square
"The critical issue was the reason for putting them out," Choper said. "Was it to suppress the speech or" for other legitimate reasons.
Added Carlton Larson, professor at UC Davis School of Law: "If they could show that lots of other people are violating the curfew and they were being singled out because the people don't like what they have to say then they have a good case."
I would just say that the protesters are protesting to the wrong entity. It is Congress who set up all of these policies in the first place. You want to protest: go to D.C. That is where it all originated. I am not defending banks nor wall street - I'm just saying look at who created the housing bubble, the Dept of Education, the labor union pension funds...oh the list goes on and on.
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