Police in Cincinnati had been busy issuing citations to protesters camped out in Piatt Park. The protestors, part of the larger Occupy movement that began on Wall Street, were granted a temporary relief from the ticketing from a federal judge. But the stay was temporary and a small move in a larger federal lawsuit filed against the city on behalf of the protesters.
Early this week judge U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott ordered the police to stop ticketing protestors for being in the part after the posted 10p.m. closing time. The stay was only effective for 28 hours in hopes the city and those who filed suit against them would reach a compromise by Wednesday. But at 8p.m. Wednesday night, the ticketing resumed.
Protesters are suing the city, saying the 10 p.m. park closure time and ticking violates their right to free speech on public property. The city maintains that regulating the park in such a manner is no violation of rights.
As of Monday, when the order was issued, police had doled out 239 citations in the park since October 9, totaling around $25,000 in revenue if they are eventually collected. The tickets had been handed out to 91 people who continued camping in the park after hours.
On Wednesday, after the 8 p.m. deadline passed, police got out their pens again, issuing more of the $105 tickets.
In their lawsuit, the protesters are challenging the validity of the tickets. Obviously if they win the suit or reach a compromise with the city, they would ideally be able to peacefully protest within the park 24 hours a day, if they so choose.
But local police aren’t just passing out tickets, they are also passing around handcuffs. Just last night 23 protesters were arrested in the park for refusing to leave after 10 p.m. They were all charged with trespassing and many posted the $500 bail soon after their arrest. Many of those arrested had been previously ticketed in past weeks.
While protesters have no intention on leaving and have rejected several different offers from the city to squash the lawsuit, local businesses are reportedly concerned about how the local chanting and sign carrying will affect their business. This, city officials say, is ample reason to control the flow and presence of protesters in the downtown park.
There is little doubt that the city will also continue to fight their side, making arrests and issuing citations. Arrests for trespassing, disorderly conduct, and similar charges can be expected.
If you’ve been arrested in an Occupy protest and are seeking legal advice, contact our offices today.
Related: Article on What To Do If Arrested in an Occupy Protest