BOSTON (CBS) – A judge lifted a restraining order on Wednesday that could have prevented the city of Boston from evicting Occupy Boston members from their encampment at Dewey Square.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Frances McIntyre ruled that “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.”
The 25-page ruling goes on to say “(occupation) is viewed as a hostile act, an assertion of possession against the rights of another… as a matter of law, is not speech. Nor is it immune from criminal prosecution for trespass or other crimes.”
Read: Full Court Ruling (.pdf)
Occupy Boston lawyers had asked for a permanent restraining order, arguing that they were protected by the First Amendment and the city of Boston should not be allowed to evict protesters without a hearing.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports
City lawyers argued that free speech is not unlimited, especially when there are serious safety concerns.
Mayor Menino issued a statement applauding the court’s decision.
“Our first priority has always been and will always be to ensure the public’s health and safety,” it read. “As outlined in the court proceeding and affirmed in the judge’s ruling, the conditions at Dewey Square have deteriorated significantly and pose very real health and safety risks.”
WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager reports
The Mayor ended the statement with a seeming threat as he urged protesters to remove their tents.
“The city will act appropriately to fulfill our duty to preserve the public’s peace and safety,” the statement read.
A member of Occupy Boston said of a possible eviction, “We’re ready. We’ll be here. If they want to take this place down, they’ll have to take all of us with it.”