After a hearing followed closely by both Occupy Boston residents and supporters as well as the City of Boston, Judge Frances McIntyre today extended the temporary restraining order granted to prevent eviction of the Occupy Boston encampment at Dewey Square. The restraining order will remain in effect until an anticipated decision by the Superior Court on or before December 15th. This marks the second time that Occupy Boston’s legal team has secured a victory, albeit a temporary one, for the encampment.
The ACLU of Massachusetts and National Lawyers Guild-Massachusetts Chapter, through attorney Howard Cooper of Todd & Weld, filed a motion for the temporary restraining order granted last month, seeking to head off the possibility that Occupy demonstrators would be forcibly removed, as they have been in other cities.
Cooper, who filed the suit as a cooperating attorney with the National Lawyers Guild-Massachusetts Chapter and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, stated:
“The Occupy Boston encampment in Dewey Square is a uniquely expressive response to the problems we face as a society today. At a time when many feel that our government is broken, the protesters have set up a small community to demonstrate how people can associate together in a more democratic, egalitarian and just way. In deciding to go to Court, the protesters have sought protection from interference with their efforts to communicate their message.”
Numerous Twitter accounts relayed the proceedings of the hearing throughout the morning, and included reviews of the testimony supplied by Occupy Boston resident Eric Martin. Martin endured a thorough cross-examination by city attorneys, who put forward questions regarding the camp’s merit as a form of speech. Attorneys also questioned Martin’s ability to represent the views of Occupy Boston.
The court always heard testimony from Boston Fire Marshall Bart Shea, who compared blue camping tarps in use at Dewey Square to “napalm”, were they to ever be ignited.
The mayor’s office stated that due to the leaderless nature of the movement, there was no clear way to address health, fire, and safety hazards. However, those in camp were puzzled as to why city officials did not bring the concerns to the General Assembly, Occupy Boston’s decision-making body.
Urszula Masny-Latos, Executive Director of the NLG, Massachusetts Chapter encouraged the city to work with Occupy Boston. “The City should work with Occupy and create an acceptable and workable plan for addressing all health and safety-related issues, rather than seeking the ultimate closure of the Dewey Square encampment,” she said.