Occupy Boston, city in court over Dewey Square camp
BOSTON -- A judge will wait until mid-December to decide whether Occupy Boston can stay in Dewey Square, or if they will be evicted.
Members of Occupy Boston left camp and went to Suffolk Superior Court on Thursday morning hoping the judge would extend the injunction that allows them to stay in Dewey Square indefinitely -- a place they’ve now occupied for two months.
“We’re prepared to continue occupying Boston -- will that mean we’re down there in Dewey Square? We sincerely hope so,” said Occupy Boston spokesperson Ariel Oshinsky.
In court, attorneys representing the residents who live in the camp say the issue is a simple one -- free speech.
“I’m pleased to report, your honor, that over the last two weeks the protests have peacefully continued, the message has continued to get out and the sky has not fallen,” said Occupy Boston attorney Howard Cooper.
While attorneys representing the City of Boston say they have no plans to dismantle the tents right now, Dewey Square has been transformed into an illegal housing development.
“Plaintiffs do not have the right to take a piece of public property perpetually and establish their own society on it. Because what has happened in reality, your honor, is that this now is not a symbolic location, it’s a housing development. After 30 days those tents became dwellings and they don’t comply with the law. Period,” said City attorney Micheal Ricciuti.
"I fear for the life and safety of every person on that property," said Bart Shea, a Boston fire marshal.
In court, Fire Marshal Shea explained the numerous fire code violations, the health hazards, and the overall chaotic living conditions in Dewey Square, where Occupy protesters have been for two months.
"We've been trying to work with these people to the best of our ability to keep them as safe as possible. Thery're working in a chaotic situation, this is a novel event, they've not approached us for any information whatsoever," said Fire Marshal Shea.
City officials say they are concerned about public safety. But those living in the camp want to stay there to continue to deliver their message.
Mayor Thomas Menino does not want to dismantle the camp at Dewey Square, but he does want the legal right to be able to do that if it reaches that point.
One Occupy protester thought the hearing was successful.
"I do view this as a victory, I mean, she could have made the decision to overturn the restraining order immediately because of the pressing public safety issues that the defendants brought up. I find it great that she's taking it under serious consideration," said Philip Anderson, an Occupy Boston protester.
The hearing lasted almost four hours. However, the judge will wait to make a decision on whether to evict Occupy Boston until mid-December. For now, Occupy Boston will stay in Dewey Square.
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