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Occupy Chicago Occupies The Court

By aaroncynic in News on Feb 16, 2012 3:00PM

Image Credit: misterbuckwheattree
Occupy Chicago had its first of at least two days in court yesterday, when a group of 93 out of the hundreds arrested at demonstrations in October last year demanded the charges against them be dropped. Medill reports the individual court cases were consolidated into what lawyers representing Occupy Chicago said was one of the largest in recent memory.

The core of the city's argument is that park hours trump the right to assemble. ABC 7 reports attorney's for the city argued:

“While the protesters may feel that they are entitled to the park for those seven hours that's not what the First Amendment requires & and that there is no requirement that the city provide people with an alternative."

The National Lawyer's Guild represented the majority of defendants, while attorney Thomas Durkin represented a group of about a dozen demonstrators from the University of Chicago. For Occupy Chicago and their attorneys, the right to free speech and peaceably assemble trump any municipal park codes. Durkin argued that the city violated the First Amendment rights of the arrested, on the grounds that it did not provide an alternate space after the park closure rules were enforced. CBS 2 reports defense attorney Robert Stainthorpe criticized the city for the arrests, saying:

“Making the protestors be arrested, taken to jail, fingerprinted, mug shots, conditions of bail set, go to criminal court; now the city’s turned around and said, ‘Oh, it’s not really criminal, it’s just civil. That’s really outrageous.”

Members of Occupy Chicago and their attorneys will be back in court this afternoon for a second day of hearings.