Friday, February 24, 2012

Update: Federal Judge to Rule Monday on Occupy Boise

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 3:12 PM

UPDATE 5:00 p.m.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill told attorneys Friday that he should rule on Monday, Feb. 27 on whether he'll stop or slow down the eviction of the Occupy Boise encampment.

Occupy Boise attorney Bryan Walker argued that the newly-signed emergency law, calling for the eviction of the four-month encampment, violated his clients' First Amendment rights to free speech.

Immediately after signing the law into effect, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and state officials told Occupiers that they had until 5 p.m. on the 27th to leave the grounds in front of the Old Ada County Courthouse, across from the Idaho Capitol.


They call it a community. It’s a micro-society. And for many, it is home. But the exact residence of this movement never resided in physical space, they say.

“It lives in the hearts,” said Albert Garcia.

“You can’t evict an idea,” said Boise Occupier Mike Dooley.

But if the state has its way, an eviction could come on Monday, Feb. 27, at 5 p.m., following legislation that was signed into law by Idaho Gov. C.L. ”Butch” Otter on Tuesday. Occupiers filed suit to overturn the legislation that prohibits camping on some state property and called for emergency removal of the protestors and their property.

“Like every other Occupy camp where the authorities have tried to evict them, we’re trying to hold our ground,” said Occupy Boise attorney Bryan Walker.

Walker filed suit on behalf of Occupy Boise, challenging the constitutionality of the legislation that could eradicate the protest grounds and community built by demonstrators over the past four months. The group also asked a judge to issue a temporary restraining order that would stop the eviction. Occupiers find out if the restraining order can move forward in a telephone conference with U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill this afternoon.

The lawsuit charges that the eviction legislation applies an ad hoc law to the peaceful demonstration and thwarts the constitutional rights to free speech and assembly under the First Amendment. The suit also seeks to retain Fourteenth Amendment protection of property that litigants say was stripped away when the governor signed the legislation onto law. The law would allow authorities to seize the property of anyone deemed camping on the courthouse lawn.

“It puts everyone at risk who has their property seized,” Walker said.

The law allows protesters to claim their property within 90 days.

“If they claim their property, they risk incriminating themselves and being charged with this violation whether they were camping out or not,” Walker said.

Occupiers see the legislation as a deliberate attempt to silence free speech and restrict the freedom to assemble.

“It’s a manipulation of the law to marginalize a group of oppressed people. They didn’t want to see us and they don’t want to hear us,” Marley Diaz said.

The legislation epitomizes why Boise Occupiers began their camp and protest on Nov. 5, Diaz said.

“It’s a reflection why we are really here. We live in a country where the voice of the people isn’t heard.”

The scent of Idaho campfire wafted through Occupy Boise as Mike Dooley stoked the fires of a wood-burning stove warming the inside of the camp's large general assembly tent on Thursday. He warmed his hands beside the fire welcoming visitors into what for the moment served as his living room and in a few minutes would serve as planning headquarters for Occupy protesters.

A long series of evictions and losses led Dooley to join the Occupy movement and take up residence on the lawn of the Old Ada County Courthouse. But he said he doesn’t camp out for himself alone, and like others, he plans to continue the fight to be heard and represented in a post-eviction era with education, outreach and community involvement.

“I’d rather fight this fight for a better future rather than fight the daily fight for a dollar because I think this fight will get us a better future. I fight this fight not only for my future but for the future of my future grandchildren. This, at 22 years old, is a scary thing to say.”

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