Eight Occupy Wall Street members guilty of trespass

NEW YORK Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:00pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Eight Occupy Wall Street members were convicted on Monday of criminal trespass for breaking into a fenced-in private lot last December during a protest.

The protesters scaled an eight-foot fence, ignoring signs that warned against trespassing, and entered a plaza known as Duarte Square that is owned by historic Trinity Church, one of lower Manhattan's largest land-owners.

The one-week trial in Manhattan Criminal Court pitted the church, once a strong ally of the movement, against Occupy supporters, who pressured church leaders not to cooperate with the prosecution.

Through its protests, which spread across the country, Occupy Wall Street started a national conversation on economic inequality last fall. But the movement has struggled to maintain its viability after police cleared most of its encampments in various cities.

In the trial before Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino, one defendant, Mark Adams, was also convicted of trying to slice through the fence's locks with bolt-cutters.

Sciarrino sentenced him to 45 days, more than the 30 days that prosecutors had been seeking; he did not offer an explanation.

The other seven defendants received four days of community service.

"I'm not shocked, but I'm disappointed that the court felt private property interests trumped our clients' good-faith defenses," said Gideon Oliver Orion, one of four defense lawyers.

In finding the protesters guilty, Sciarrino said property rights are as important as freedom of speech.

"This was a forceful taking, an invasion, an occupation, pure and simple," he said.

The incident occurred on December 17, a month after a police raid disbanded the Occupy encampment at Zuccotti Park, about a mile from the square.

In a statement, Erin Duggan, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney's office, said the office "greatly respects the First Amendment right of citizens to protest" but that its exercise must not violate the law.

There have been more than 2,250 Occupy-related arrests since September, Duggan said. Approximately two-thirds of those have ended in non-criminal dispositions, mostly through conditional dismissals.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Leslie Gevirtz)

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Comments (2)
The real crime and the real criminals remain free as birds after bringing the World Economy to it’s knees.Unadulterated fraud and lawlessness defended by New Democrats and Republicans alike. While Jamie Dimon and his cohorts,confederates ready the next installment of the crisis.

Jun 18, 2012 7:32pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
timrue wrote:
Wanna do something that literally counts? Instruct the government at all levels for which you pay taxes, what they are to do with the taxes you pay. I’ll say about mine, you about yours and when everyone does this, we will allow congress to take more vacations as their budgeting and accounting failures will no longer be on their plate. And if we keep this up, they can take a permanent vacation. If you don’t think this is possible, just try telling the owner who signs your paycheck that they have no say in what you do for the their company which you work for. And see how long you’ll have that job. It’ll be far less than 4 years.

Simply put, follow the instruction the founders left for you the people in the Declaration of Independence. Understand you are an independent boss of what your taxes are spent on. And if you don’t pay taxes, then vote for who gets to implement the instructions of the tax payers, just as they can. Where government positions are no different than hiring someone to do a job for you. They may attended to the details of how they fulfill the instruction of the tax payers.

No Taxation without representation! Do lying politicians represent you?

Jun 24, 2012 4:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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