Ken Leighton 3:30 p.m., Feb. 15
Lawsuit Filed Against City and Police on Behalf of Occupy San Diego as Hunger Strike Continues
Today, free speech attorneys with LGBT rights group Canvass for a Cause and members of the National Lawyers Guild representing Occupy San Diego filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego and the San Diego Police Department in Federal Court seeking a temporary restraining order against the city and the police.
“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 attorney Bryan Pease.
“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... 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.”
Former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre spoke in front of City Council and denounced the municipal code, saying: “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."
The Memorandum of Points and Aurthorities filed today states:
"SDMC section 54.0110 is void for vagueness in that it does not define a criminal offense with sufficient certainty so that ordinary people can understand what conduct is prohibited, and it encourages arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.
"The ordinance fails to establish standards for the police and public that are sufficient to guard against the arbitrary deprivation of liberty interests and fails to give fair notice of what acts will be punished so that First Amendment rights are chilled. Section 54.0110 is also overbroad because it has a chilling effect on free expression in that individuals are often not permitted to even place protest signs down next to where they are standing. The ordinance also sweeps unnecessarily broadly and thereby invades areas of protected freedoms.
"Unless restrained by an order of this Court, Plaintiffs will continue to suffer irreparable harm in that their First Amendment freedoms will continue to be violated."
“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," said Hasmik Geghamyan, the San Diego Chapter Coordinator of the National Lawyers Guild.
"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.
“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.”
The local legal action follows a total of 89 arrests since the group began occupying the plaza in early October.
Ten protesters were arrested at around 2 a.m. this morning after reportedly refusing to leave a public grass space on the east side of the Civic Center.
About 75 protesters had returned to the area by late morning.
Meanwhile, protester John Kenney is in his ninth day of hunger strike pending the city's recognition of a proposal based on proposals previously adopted in Los Angeles and Irvine.
OCCUPY SAN DIEGO PROPOSAL TO OCCUPY CIVIC CENTER PLAZA
We, Occupy San Diego propose that we be granted permits from the City of San Diego, including the City Council and the Mayor, to continue to peacefully occupy San Diego Civic Center for the next six (6) months, from October 27, 2011 to April 27, 2011. If neither party gives written notice of intention to cancel this agreement, the permits will be automatically extended for another six (6) month duration until such time as this agreement is canceled.
We propose that up to and including three-hundred (300) tents or similar structures be allowed to Occupy the San Diego Civic Center Plaza.
Occupy San Diego will continue to work reasonably to accommodate various Civic Center events, as we have done to date, and proposes that all scheduling and scheduled events that would impact its ability to Occupy all public spaces in Civic Center be made known to Occupy San Diego as soon as possible, including future events. Occupy San Diego proposes that the Civic Center Concourse office works to mutually accommodate and inform Occupy San Diego of any events that would impact the sustainability, and or status quo of Occupy San Diego living arrangements.
Occupy San Diego proposes that semi-permanent status be given to its Medical, Food and Orientation facilities, perhaps over in the area by the Plaza (?) de San Diego between the planters, and the entrance way at Third & B St., respectively. Occupy San Diego also proposes reasonable access to water, restroom facilities and an adequate electrical supply.
Occupy San Diego proposes City Council empowers it to tape out a corridor for fire and safety vehicles in the event of an emergency, (16 ft. wide corridor throughout the concourse); Occupy San Diego will respect all access to building entrances/exits and for private property for a time one hour before and after business hours; and that Occupy San Diego be allowed free and unfettered access to Occupy all other Public spaces.
We at Occupy San Diego ask your assistance in protecting our Nurses, our women members and our fundamental Constitutional right not only to First Amendments Rights to Freedom of Speech, but to the basic rights of food and shelter which all communities need to survive.
We have been attacked and often misled in numerous attempts to force us out of the Civic Center Occupation, despite working to accommodate the various employees, citizens and event sharing the plaza. We’ve been misled into moving partially into Balboa Park, only to be mugged, betrayed, fractured and ultimately forced out of there as well. The same can be said for our one night attempt to Occupy Midway Park.
The SDPD plays manipulative psychological warfare games on us daily, while demanding we live like homeless individuals on the concrete, to be roused at six, threatened continuously with being swept out again. Over half of our daily concerns are dedicated exclusively to safeguarding our supplies, our tents and our bodies, while the true effort to fix our broken system continues to suffer the oppression of the Ruling Class, and man-servants of the 1%.
As you can see from our reasonable proposal, we ask only the safety and security of the basic rights to food and shelter any community needs to survive. We ask that you call your own City Councilperson’s office in support of us, as well as any other that you can.
We ask that you request they support our proposal, or if they can’t, at least provide us a reasonable alternative site, and that they not then sweep us out of that place as well. The numbers are as follows:
Council President Tony Young 236-6644; David Alvarez 236-6688 Marti Emerald 236-6677; Sherri Lightner 236-6611; Todd Gloria 236-6633 Laurie Zapf, 236-6616; Kevin Faulkner 236-6622; Carl DeMaio 236-6655 Thank you for helping us build a better tomorrow for us, and future generations.