BOSTON (CBS) – A judge extended Occupy Boston’s restraining order against the city on Thursday while she considered their argument pitting free speech rights against a city’s right to enforce the law.
Occupy Boston lawyers argued in court that the city of Boston cannot evict protesters without a hearing, despite the city’s claims of rampant health and safety code violations.
The encampment is seeking a permanent restraining order against the city of Boston.
”Public health, public safety, and sanitation building issues do not result in summary execution of first amendment rights,” Occupy Boston Attorney Howard Cooper told the court.
The judge said she planned to make a decision on Occupy Boston’s request by December 15.
The city says it does not have any plans to evict the encampment, but argued that it should have the option to do so if the situation gets out of hand.
Its lawyers argued that free speech is not unlimited, especially when there are serious safety concerns.
WBZ-TV’s Jim Smith reports
Boston’s Fire Marshal Bart Shea testified that a fire at the Occupy Boston encampment is a real risk. He also revealed that the city had sent Occupy Boston an abatement order to remove all of its tents, but does not know if the order was received.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports
Shea says the blue tarps are “like napalm” and the amount of flammable material in the mess tent “scared the hell out of me.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports
“A fire could rip right across the tops of those tents before anyone could get out,” he testified. “Something disastrous could happen there, and people would be trapped trying to escape.”
Protesters say they’ve tried to bring in safer, winterized tents since hearing about the code violations but have been prevented by Boston police.
Boston police acknowledged that they are not letting certain materials into the area.
“BPD has restricted building materials or anything considered a structure due to the obvious safety concerns without proper construction oversight,” the department said in a statement.