New York City Council’s Lucky 13

On October 13th word went out that the NYPD would move to evict Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park.

2011_10_14(6:00 AM – friend Laurie with Ann, Jenny & Joan P of the GPB )

Immediately the 99% swung into action, including three stalwart members of the Granny Peace Brigade, mobilizing a round-the-clock vigil to protect the occupiers. Thirteen members of New York’s 51-member City Council added their support, sending a letter to Mayor Bloomberg that clearly and elegantly stated their position:

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

We are writing to appeal to you not to enforce new rules at Liberty Plaza that would effectively evict the Occupy Wall Street protest. Please respect the deep traditions of free speech and right of assembly that make this a great, free, diverse, and opinionated city and nation. While we do not all necessarily agree with their point-of-view, we support their right to be there, and we feel strongly that it would be a mistake for the City of New York to evict them.

We agree that it makes sense to clean Zucotti Park, and to develop concrete practices to address the serious concerns of the lower Manhattan neighborhood. We were pleased to learn that discussions have taken place between local elected officials, representatives of Manhattan Community Board 1 and Occupy Wall Street toward a good neighbor agreement. We support such an agreement to improve conditions for residents, area schools, and local businesses and we ask that you support and enforce it.

When you announced yesterday that the park would be cleaned, you indicated that protestors would be allowed to return, suggesting to the public and the protestors that the Occupy Wall Street protest would be allowed to continue. The new rules you are enforcing, however – in particular the prohibition on sleeping bags and gear – is an eviction notice and potentially an unconstitutional closing of a forum to silence free speech.

The willingness of the protestors to sleep out overnight, and many of the temporary elements they have established – for example, the communications center and library – are fundamental expressive elements of the Occupy Wall Street protest. By enforcing new rules that eliminate these, you are abridging their rights of assembly and free speech.

These traditions of free speech, public assembly, and public protest are a deep part of our American tradition, honored best of all in the civic spaces of New York City. Whether you agree or disagree with what they are saying – and we are mixed in our opinions – we believe that it would be a harmful disservice to these democratic traditions to evict them.

Please reconsider the enforcement of these new rules, and work with the community board, local elected officials, and the protestors on regulations that address community concerns, but allow the protestors to remain.

Sincerely,
Gale Brewer, Daniel Dromm, Mathieu Eugene, Daniel Garodnick, Letitia James, Brad Lander, Stephen Levin, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Rosie Mendez, Annabel Palma, James Sanders Jr., Jimmy Van Bramer, and Jumaane Williams.

At a time when politics has turned into a cash-fueled partisan side show, we think it’s time to thank those public servants who stood with us and to urge our other City Council members who have remained silent, to step up and take a stand. What better way to support our brothers and sisters at OWS and other ‘occupiers’ around the U.S. than to call on our elected representatives to support the 99%.

If you are in New York City please join us  at our
Lucky 13 Phone-A-Thon
November 4th, 12:00PM-1:30PM
City Hall Park – Broadway & Park Place

– Fran Sears and Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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