SJ Occupy Protesters Face Arrest Tonight

By Chris Roberts
|  Thursday, Oct 13, 2011  |  Updated 8:37 AM PDT
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Occupying Wall Street and Beyond: May Day Protests

AP

Protesters like this one in Washington could be forced off of the San Jose City Hall public space or face arrest on Friday night.

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So much for freedom to assemble.

San Jose's own Occupy Wall Street protest could face a police crackdown tonight, as city officials put word out that it's illegal to camp out at City Hall overnight, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

City Attorney Rick Doyle said that picketing and protesting is ok during daylight hours. But? "Bottom line is, we prohibit camping, we prohibit staying overnight," Doyle told the newspaper. As soon as Friday night, San Jose cops could tell the protesters to shove off or face arrest.

The First Amendment question has many in the Bay Area thinking -- is freedom of speech really being observed, if cops and city officials put time limits on it?

Elaine Brown, a San Jose resident and attorney, is working to hammer out an agreement between the Occupy San Jose movement and the city. "We've been trying to work with the city so that we can exercise our First Amendment rights here in a congenial manner," she told the newspaper.

And there's precedent for this, too: in 2008, an elderly Vietnamese activist camped out in front of San Jose City Hall for about a month, no permit necessary.

Tom Manheim, a spokesman for the city manager's office, told the newspaper that the city "probably should have cited" the activist, and by no means does that create a safe haven for campers today. "We are concerned about allowing a precedent to be set that says anybody can come and do whatever they want on our plaza," he told the newspaper.

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