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Occupy New Haven Remains Last Encampment in New England, for Now

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March 15, 2012

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - A federal judge on Wednesday granted a temporary restraining order to stop New Haven's plan to evict protesters from that city's Green.

Dozens of protesters calling themselves Occupy New Haven have been camping on the northwest section of the Green since mid-October. U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall ruled that they can stay at least two weeks longer, despite city officials' pledge to remove them. The city supported the occupation until this month, when officials decided it was time for them to leave.

The protesters' attorney, Norm Pattis, summed up Hall's ruling.

"The Occupy movement represents a grassroots effort on behalf of ordinary people to say 'we're angry as hell and we're not going to take it anymore.' New Haven didn't want to listen, but the judge just told them, 'You gotta listen for two more weeks.' "

Until First Amendment issues are sorted out, Hall's ruling declared, removing the protesters would cause irreparable harm to their free-speech rights. City Corporation Counsel Victor Bolden argued that the city has a right to evict them after five months, so others can enjoy the space.

"Certainly, I think the general notion that they can stay as long as they want is certainly something the court has not upheld. The idea is that the Green is for the use for all, and can't be limited just for the private use of a few."

The Occupiers say they represent "the 99 percent" and that anyone is welcome to join them on the Green, and that other activities can go on undisturbed on the rest of the Green.

Melinda Tuhus/Dallas Heltzell, Public News Service - CT