Press Release from Occupy San Diego
Today, November 16, 2011, free speech attorneys, LGBT rights group Canvass for a Cause, and members of the National Lawyers Guild representing Occupy San Diego protesters filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego and the San Diego Police Department in Federal Court seeking the court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the city and the SDPD.
“The SDPD are currently arbitrarily telling people who walk through the Civic Center that if they set down anything—their purse, their bag, a chair, or in one case even a tomato plant—, they will be arrested,” said Bryan Pease, a free speech attorney in San Diego. “The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech and the right to peacefully assemble—municipal code section 54.010 and how it is being enforced by the SDPD is unconstitutional.”
Attorneys are hopeful of their eventual success, “Even if the court does not grant the TRO because they want to allow the city time to prep their arguments, this is a text book case of unconstitutional enforcement of a municipal code and I believe we will be successful at the preliminary injunction hearing,” said Pease.
To help Occupy San Diego’s case, former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre spoke in front of City Council publicly calling out the municipal code: “The provision being used by the SDPD to thwart public assembly was not intended to be so used and abridges the right of those involved to peacefully assemble. There are First Amendment rights being violated and legal research will bear it out.”
Similar lawsuits are being filed all across the country. “This movement has become the impetus for a dynamic, constructive change forward and we are here to ensure that the rights of the occupiers are preserved and asserted. With the coordinated nationwide crackdown on Occupiers everywhere, many of the Occupations are seeking legal help from the National Lawyers Guild and other civil rights attorneys including at Occupy Wall Street ” said Hasmik Geghamyan, the San Diego Chapter Coordinator of the National Lawyers Guild, “Because there are local NLG chapters all across the county, at every Occupation, it is easy to share information, keep updated, and provide moral support for each other—what we’ve found is that a legal remedy in these situations is often the most effective.”