A Manhattan judge on Tuesday morning signed off on a temporary restraining order allowing Occupy Wall Street protesters to come back to their home base at Zuccotti Park following an early-morning NYPD raid to remove encampments.
At around 1 a.m. ET early Tuesday, police began to boot protesters who were camping out in the park. By 6 a.m., Zuccotti Park was free of protesters as sanitation workers cleaned the park that Mayor Michael Bloomberg deemed a health and safety hazard.
The temporary restraining order signed by state Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings in Manhattan prohibits the city from evicting protesters from Zuccotti Park and enforcing rules that prevent demonstrators from re-entering the park with tents and other property previously utilized.
The city must show cause for the eviction at a hearing scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.
New York City Chapter Secures Temporary Restraining Order
A group of attorneys with the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild -- under the name Liberty Park Legal Working Group -- obtained the temporary restraining order against the city, its agencies and Zuccotti Park's owners, Brookfield Properties.
The LPLWG has been fighting to ensure their right to free speech from day one of the occupation, attorney Gideon Oliver said in a statement. The occupiers' right to free speech is based in our most core legal principles and we will be here till the end to fight for those rights.
About 70 people have been reportedly arrested, among them a New York City Councilman from Northern Manhattan, Ydanis Rodriguez.
There was no legal justification that was actually vocalized or addressed, said Joel Kupferman, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild, Joel Kupferman. Excessive force was used in many cases.
Bloomberg held a press conference at 8 a.m. following the NYPD raid. He later said in a statement that protesters can exercise their first amendment, but cannot use tents, sleeping bags, or tarps to occupy a public space overnight.
While Bloomberg had the final word on clearing out the park, its owners, Brookfield Properties, made the request.
Occupy Wall Street-related groups throughout the country from Atlanta to Sacramento have been fighting attempts to remove them from public space. A slew of First Amendment lawsuits have been filed in federal courts against cities and states to challenge policies Occupy groups say are enforced arbitrarily to break up encampments.
In 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the National Park Service's decision to deny a permit to a group that planned to erect symbolic tent cities in Washington, D.C.'s Lafayette Park and the National Mall to raise attention to homelessness. The majority held that protected speech is subject to reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions.