A judge ruled today that protesters may return to Zuccotti Park – but no camping.
The ruling was handed down in New York state Supreme Court around 5 p.m. and is a major blow to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Judge Michael Stallman ruled in favor of the city’s attorneys, who said that property rules forbid tents, which also make the space unusable for the public.
Lawyers for Occupy Wall Street argued in front of Stallman that the tents are an integral part of the 24-hour protest, and thus protected by the First Amendment.
Stallman ruled that the Occupy Wall Street protesters did not strongly enough argue that the tents were part of their freedom-of-speech rights.
Specifically, Stallman wrote, protesters “have not demonstrated that they have a First Amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators and other installations to the exclusion of the owner’s reasonable rights and duties to maintain Zuccotti Park, or to the rights to public access of others who might wish to use the space safely.”
“First Amendment rights do not include the right to endanger the public or infringe on the rights of others,” a victorious Mayor Michael Bloomberg said after the ruling.
Occupy Wall Street lawyers vowed to fight the ruling.
“The city has acted so arrogantly today,” attorney Yetta Kurland said outside the courthouse. “We are going to continue to battle.”
The judge was appointed this afternoon to review a decision made earlier today by Judge Lucy Billings.
Billings signed a temporary restraining order this morning decreeing that protesters have the legal right to return to the camp, and set up the tents and tarps the police took down earlier today.
Bloomberg ordered the park closed all day until the court order could be clarified.