News Column

Occupy Members Fighting Charges

Feb. 4, 2013

Christine McConville, Boston Herald

Insisting their constitutional rights were trampled on during a 2011 police crackdown, five members of Occupy Boston will ask a judge today to toss the criminal charges against them.

"They were engaged in a constitutionally protected activity," Boston attorney Jeff Feuer said about former downtown tent-dwellers Andrea Hill, Ashley Brewer, Brianne Milder, Tammi Arford and Kerry McDonald. "The state says people have the right to assemble and seek redress of grievances, and that's clearly what the Occupy movement was about."

But the city and state say they overstepped their bounds.

"We're proud of the great work of the Boston Police Department during the Occupy movement," Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement yesterday. "Boston served as a national model, with protesters allowed to exercise their rights to free speech and assembly, and without any resulting violence."

Suffolk District Attorney's Office spokesman Jake Wark said: "A Suffolk Superior Court judge ruled more than a year ago that the defendants were not immune from prosecution for trespassing or other crimes."

Occupy Boston set up a sprawling camp in Dewey Square for three months in 2011. On Oct. 11, 140 protesters were charged with trespassing and unlawful assembly when they tried to expand into an adjacent area. The entire camp was broomed in December. Charges were dropped against those who paid court costs of $50 to $75, Feuer said, "but there are a number of people who said, 'We did nothing wrong and we do not want to pay a fine or have anything on our record.' " If convicted, they face up to a year in jail.



Source: (c)2013 the Boston Herald Distributed by MCT Information Services


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