Draft Proposal for Thursday 12/1 General Assembly: Legal

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

OWS Activist Legal Working Group – Proposal for GA on December 1, 2011

As most of you already know, there was a lawsuit filed the morning of the raid to ask the Court to stop the eviction and challenge the new rules put out by Brookfield about the use of Liberty Plaza. This lawsuit is still open even though the Court decided we could not have a temporary restraining order. This lawsuit was filed on behalf of individuals. The legal team who filed the lawsuit is led by Alan Levine, a long time civil rights attorney. This legal team is now asking that we authorize them to represent OWS in litigation (Court case) going forward.

This litigation is about the raid, issues around the raid and getting us the park back. A very important focus of this litigation is addressing what’s gone on at Liberty since the raid. This means the conditions at Liberty, the barricades, consistent police harassment and the rules they are enforcing.

To be clear, this litigation is not about getting our stuff back that was taken or destroyed or police brutality. Lawyer teams are coming together to brainstorm and take legal action in connection with our stuff and the police brutality separate from the litigation in this proposal. We will be holding open forum discussions about these other issues in the coming days and weeks.

The litigation in this proposal is about our 1st amendment right to protest and the use of so called public/private space in connection with Liberty Plaza. There is never a guarantee in litigation, we may not win. But it is an opportunity for our voices to be heard in a very public way about how our rights were violated the night of the raid, how our rights continue to be violated and how the government and private corporations like Brookfield are trying to silence us. This litigation is just one of many routes we can take, and are already taking, to push our political actions into the public consciousness.

Contact info: ows.legal@gmail.com

4 Responses to “Draft Proposal for Thursday 12/1 General Assembly: Legal”

  1. s.t.

    dear Legal, thanks for pursuing this and also clarifying that is a distinctly separate issue than the confiscation of property during the raid itself.

    questions : since OWS is technically not a ‘legal entity’ (please correct if this is a mistaken assumption), how would OWS be represented, as a collection of individuals?

    also, are there are any present/future costs attached to agreeing to this representation?

  2. JZ

    Good to see this, thanks for the update … and I’m also interested in the answer to s.t.’s question above. Would it have anything to do with the Global Alliance connection as a non-profit?

  3. Courtney Burke

    I’d like to contribute a few stories about what’s been going on in the park since the raid.
    I’m a regular facilitator for the People’s Think Tank, which meets every day in the park, and has met there almost every day since the raid. (unless it’s seriously raining.)
    After the park was cleared, we started having Think Tank discussions on the slab of concrete on the Liberty side of the park, near the entrance and the raised flower beds. It was a good site to have discussions, because people were able to participate from the other side of the fence. We often drew a large crowd of tourists, onlookers, and supporters, as many as 50 people.
    Being close to the fence (I felt) allowed people who were too intimidated by the gates and the police presence to be a part of the discussion and to see that we are rational, normal people.
    The first instance that caused me concern was when we were in the middle of a discussion, a Brookfield security guard noisily rammed an extra row of barricades in-between us and the sidewalk. This disrupted our conversation, frightened the participants, and made it slightly more awkward for people on the sidewalk to be involved–since now there was a double row of fence with a large gap in between.
    The next day I came back and the entire area had been surrounded by police tape. When asked why, the Brookfield agent said that it was because they were “concerned about the flowers.”
    I came by a few days later and the tape had fallen down, so I sat down on the slab of concrete near the fence. A Brookfield agent came over and asked me to leave, I said no, and he walked away. The police tape has since gone back up.
    Many other times I’ve been facilitating, Brookfield agents have disruptively walked through our circle, most recently in an almost totally empty park, he seemed to be going out of his way to intimidate or make me uncomfortable by hitting me in the head with his bum walking by us, rather than just steering clear of us, which would have been the polite and normal thing to do.
    It seems clear to me that this is a deliberate attempt to shut down civil discussion and interest in the protests and not an attempt to create an environment that is welcome to free speech or to the general public.

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