Occupy Turns One, Local Group Goes to Court

Contributions by Occupy Gainesville and Attorney William Salmon

Around the country, the spirit of the Occupy movement has been refueled as Occupy Wall Street celebrated its one-year anniversary in September. Locally, Occupy Gainesville will be celebrating its one-year on Friday, Oct. 12, from 5p.m. on at the Bo Diddley Plaza in Downtown Gainesville.

The event kicks off at 5p.m. with fellowship, fun and lots of chalk; then at 6p.m., Occupy Gainesville will march to the corner of University Avenue and NW 13th Street (bring your signs, drums and assorted noisemakers!); then finally at 7:30p.m., the group will march down to the Jam (817 W. University Ave.) for food, music, open mic and a year-in-review presentation.

Meanwhile, later this month, on Oct. 30, thirty Occupy Gainesville members will be called up for an en banc hearing on their Motions to Dismiss before Judges Thomas Jaworski, David Krieder and Walter Green in Courtroom 1A of the Alachua County Criminal Justice Center.

On or around Nov. 11 last year, these 30 activists were arrested in the Bo Diddley Plaza downtown for violating a City ordinance banning trespassing. Ironically, there’s a monument at the main entrance to the Plaza dedicated to the exercise of the freedoms of speech and assembly, as well as the First Amendment. There is also a sign outside the City-owned Plaza states, “Plaza closed 11:30pm to 7:00am. No loitering in Plaza during these hours. Pass through traffic only.”

The Occupiers and their attorneys are arguing that their cases should be dismissed “on grounds that the Defendant’s arrest and prosecution violate his state and federal constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly, as well as his rights to due process and equal protection of the laws of the United States and the State of Florida,” according to a Motion to Dismiss filed on behalf of Occupier John Fullerton by his attorney William Salmon.

The State, City and their attorneys are arguing that the freedoms of speech and assembly are not absolute, and the City is within its rights to regulate its parks.

The cases were originally set for hearing on July 27 of this year, but the State filed a last-minute Motion to Continue after it was discovered that the City was unaware of the hearing until the morning of July 27.

The cases are now set for a full-day hearing on Oct. 30 in Courtroom 1A. Occupy Gainesville is asking to people to come to the hearing, which begins at 9a.m. to show solidarity with dignity, decorum and respect for the Occupy Gainesville members that stood up for everyone’s rights.

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