In a major victory – and relief – for Occupy Boston camp residents living under constant fear of eviction by police, a Suffolk Superior Court judge today issued a temporary restraining order against the City of Boston, barring the eviction of the encampment at Dewey Square until a hearing on December 1st.
Following a recent rash of crackdowns on Occupy communities nationwide, most notably Occupy Wall Street, where the movement began, occupiers everywhere have been on edge. Police raids have often come in the middle of the night, without warning. The latest allegations in the media imply that the recent raids appear to have been coordinated among city leaders throughout the country, leaving Boston wondering if action was imminent.
Until December 1st, at least, those in the Occupy Boston camp can sleep a little more soundly at night.
The ACLU released the following at 4 pm:
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.”