The city of Boston is taking steps to evict Occupy Boston protesters from their encampment in Dewey Square, less than a month after the demonstrators won a court order stating they could camp out in the park until Dec. 1.
The city reportedly filed a 200-page document arguing that while the protesters have the right to free speech, they do not have the right to occupy public property, Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas Menino, told The Boston Globe. While Joyce said Menino still supports the message of the Occupy protesters, he reportedly is convinced city officials need to have the power to act against the demonstrators if their encampment is a risk to public safety or health.
He has some real concerns about the conditions of the camp. We continue to monitor the situation and have no plans to remove them at this point, Joyce told the Globe on Wednesday.
Occupy Boston, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Lawyers Guild, filed a temporary restraining order in Suffolk Superior Court on Nov. 17 to prevent police from removing their tents and personal belongings. The request was filed the day Occupy Wall Street protesters were ousted from their encampment in Zuccotti Park following a midnight raid by the New York City Police Department.
Since then, Occupy demonstrators in Oakland, Los Angeles and Philadelphia have been evicted from their encampments by city officials. More than 200 protesters were arrested in Los Angeles during a midnight raid early Wednesday morning, while at least 50 were arrested on the same day after the Philadelphia protesters were evicted.
On Wednesday, Howard M. Cooper of Boston's Todd and Weld law firm, who represents Occupy Boston in conjunction with the ACLU and National Lawyers Guild, told The Docket that he city of Boston's message, according to its pleading, is unclear and he believes officials simply do not want to be told what they can and cannot do by a court.
Fundamentally, the city of Boston maintains that it is entitled to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants to do it, including in the middle of the night when the courts aren't open, Cooper said. What the Occupy Boston protesters have asked for all along, and will continue to ask for, is the application of the rule of law, as opposed to the city taking upon itself a significant police action without review by a court.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Frances A. McIntyre will hear arguments on Dec. 1.