Friday, March 22, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #100 - Part 5

Good News #5: Occupy protesters winning in court

I haven't talked about the Occupy movement of late. They're still out there, the movement is still carrying on; they're just not making a lot of big headlines because a lot of what's going on is at the very local level.

But something that has been happening is that the court cases arising from the first wave of occupations are winding their way through the courts - and the activists keep winning.

For example, in Philadelphia recently, a jury acquitted a dozen activists who had been charged with conspiracy and trespassing for holding a sit-in at a Wells Fargo bank.

In New York, Michael Premo was charged with assaulting an officer in the first of the cases in the city to go to a jury. He was found innocent after video footage proved police lied about the incident and that Premo was the victim, not the assailant.

In Austin, seven Occupy activists faced felony charges for a peaceful act of civil disobedience: They had chained themselves to some piping at the Port of Houston. They had their sentences reduced to time served after it came out that three undercover Austin cops had infiltrated the group and goaded the protesters into the act.

In Chicago, 92 Occupy activists arrested in a raid at Grant Park had their cases summarily dismissed by Judge Thomas Donnelly. He found that the park’s supposed curfew law was enforced rarely and inconsistently, marking the crackdown as an infringement on the protestors' First Amendment rights. 

In Cleveland, two activists who were found guilty of staying overnight in a park won a reversal when the state Court of Appeals found that the conviction ignored their First Amendment rights.

All of this recent success might have inspired Occupy to take on a new case; and for once, the group is not the defendant, but the plaintiff. The folks called Occupy Wall Street’s brain trust, Occupy the SEC, has filed a lawsuit against every top Wall Street federal regulator. The suit alleges that these regulators have violated the law by having failed to enacted the Volcker Rule, a key component of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which hoped to put at least some brakes on the banks.


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