Thursday, October 20, 2011

The "Occupy" Protests Come to Town

We have new neighbors in downtown Charlottesville: Occupy Charlottesville has taken root across the street in Lee Park.

The number of protesters camping out in the park has increased steadily throughout the week, notwithstanding the rain and cooler temperatures.

While the protesters object to the role of money in politics, others are complaining (at the Progress and Hook websites) about the alleged special treatment the Occupy group received when the City expedited its review of their request for a special "overnight use" permit for the park.

For an insightful legal perspective on the rights and obligations of the Occupy protesters and the governments they'd like to reform, check out Dahlia Lithwick's article at Slate, "Rules of Occupation"(here).

And for an interesting examination of whether sleeping overnight in a public park might be Constitutionally-protected "expressive conduct", see Christopher Dunn's article in the New York Law Journal (here) and the US Supreme Court's 1984 decision in Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence (here).

Perhaps the question of public sleeping will "re-awaken" in the coming weeks, right here in Charlottesville?