“… while Occupy Boston protesters may be exercising their expressive rights during their protest, they have no privilege under the First Amendment to seize and hold the land on which they sit… ‘Occupation’ speaks of boldness, outrage, and a willingness to take personal risk but it does not carry the plaintiffs’ professed message. Essentially, it is viewed as a hostile act, an assertion of possession against the rights of another. The act of occupation, this court has determined as a matter of law, is not speech. Nor is it immune from criminal prosecution for trespass or other crimes.”
—Suffolk Superior Court Judge Frances A. McIntyre, in a 25 page decision lifting the temporary restraining order that has blocked Boston officials from forcibly dismantling Occupy Boston’s encampment by declaring that mere occupation does not constitute “speech” within the First Amendment.
Well, of course.
Occupying property, public or private, and preventing rightful owners or those who should also have access to do likewise is hostile, and has been from the beginning. “Boldness, outrage, and a willingness to take personal risk” pretty much defines all the Occupy movement has been able to communicate clearly, its more substantive positions being a matter of some dispute, or changing according to tactical needs.
Too many municipal leaders, their political biases and yellow streaks showing, have been reluctant to make this obvious and necessary point in order to toady to hard-left voting blocks and cynical Democratic operatives who think the Occupiers bolster the class warfare theme that seems to be the agreed-upon 2012 electoral strategy. But as public annoyance with the endless occupations wore on (and the novelty wore off), the yellow streaks worked against the demonstrators. They are going to have to find some other way of “speaking” besides sitting around.
A well-reasoned, articulate and rational position would be nice.
One thought on “Ethical Quote of the Week: Boston Judge Frances A. McIntyre”
Wasn’t that the point of picketing during strikes? You had to be on public land and you had to keep moving? Basically, the Occupy people wanted to picket and protest, but were tired of walking in circles, so they tried to do the lazy man’s version, which violates public space law?