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On Behalf of Occupy Boston Participants Who Fear Second Raid, ACLU of Massachusetts & NLG Attorneys File Suit

Occupy Boston encampment in Dewey Square

The National Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts have filed a suit to protect the Occupy Boston encampment in Dewey Square from the kind of militarized police operation that has been carried out against occupations in New York, Portland, Oregon, and Oakland, California, in recent days.

The suit was filed in Massachusetts Superior Court today. Attorneys sought a:

Declaration from the Court recognizing the right to peaceful protest and assembly under the U.S. Constitution and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, as well as an injunction to prevent police from staging another night-time raid, such as the one that began Oct. 10, 2011 and continued into the early morning hours of October 11, when the Boston Police conducted a mass arrest of 141 people in the middle of the night.

Four affidavits from members of Occupy Boston were submitted. Jennie Seidewand, an active participant in Occupy Boston who has been living in a tent in Dewey Square, has feared a second raid on Occupy Boston since October 11.

Every night, I wake up in fear, often multiple times, because I fear a second series of arrests. I want to be more involved in Occupy Boston, but I am much more nervous about going to Dewey Square since October 11. Since I work with children, an arrest resulting from my participation in Occupy Boston would very likely prevent me from finding work. I desire to continue living in Dewey Square and [be] part of the Occupy Boston movement there, in order to symbolically express the message that a more just, democratic, economically egalitarian society is possible.

Noah McKenna, a technician in a neurogenetics lab at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, has actively participated in Occupy Boston since it began and has been living in a tent. McKenna survived the second raid and was one of the occupiers who linked arms with others at the scene to protect the second encampment from being destroyed.

“Since the arrests of Occupy Boston protesters on October 11, 2011,” McKenna states, he has “been concerned about a second raid.”

Sasha Sagan, another occupier, works as a teacher at a Harvard University-affiliated child care facility. She teaches infants and toddlers. She has participated in Occupy Boston since the beginning and is a medic, who helps staff the designated medic tent.

Sagan has feared a second raid too. In fact, she says she experiences “psychosomatic pain” in her legs, “which the stress and fear following the arrests” during the first raid “has aggravated” such that she now often needs to walk with a cane.

Finally, Kristopher Eric Martin, a Ph. D candidate in applied physics at Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, has been participating since the beginning. He has been living in a tent and says since the police raid he has woken up in fear “at the sound of any police siren” he hears during the night.

Each affidavit indicates occupiers believe their message can only be “effectively communicated through the literal occupation of Boston in the financial district.” They find “it symbolically communicates that just as corporations have occupied our government, the Occupy Boston movement will occupy Boston.”

Howard Cooper, an attorney from Todd & Weld, who helped file the suit, concludes, “The Greenway [where the occupation is located] is a public park and traditional open public forum and, as such, is a place where rights of free speech and assembly are paramount…It is unreasonable to suddenly and forcibly oust peaceful protestors from streets, sidewalks, and parks that have long been used as places for peaceful expression.”

Tomorrow, the ACLU of Massachusetts and the National Lawyers Guild will be part of a hearing before Judge McIntyre at 10 am in Room 1008 in the Suffolk County Superior Court (3 Pemberton Square, near State House and Boston City Hall). Members of Occupy Boston are encouraging anyone in the regional area to come to the courthouse to show solidarity with the occupation.

[For more information, here are a collection of legal documents related to the suit.]

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."