FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 23, 2012
Contact: Paul Gattone, Esq.
520-631-6385 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Also: 1-800-OTLAW99 / email@example.com
PRESS CONFERENCE: FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2012, 2:00 P.M.
VIENTE DE AGOSTO (“Pancho Villa”) PARK
Church Avenue and Congress Street
OCCUPY TUCSON CONDEMNS CONTINUED POLICE HARASSMENT AND VIOLATION OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT
New Civil Rights Lawsuit and Federal Injunction Warranted, Says OT Lawyer
On the evening of March 21, 2012, a dozen members of the Tucson Police Department stormed Viente De Agosto (“Pancho Villa”) Park in downtown Tucson and arrested five (5) individuals who were situated on the sidewalk as part of the Occupy Tucson protests. This action was the latest in a series of ongoing activities by the Tucson Police Department wherein police have blatantly disregarded the civil rights of protestors by making arrests based on arbitrary and contradictory (and sometimes wholly non-existent) interpretations of local ordinances.
The Tucson Police Department continues to blatantly waste scarce public resources in an ongoing effort to discourage the Occupy Tucson movement. TPD has exercised selective enforcement, violated their own policies with regard to handling evidence, and refused to return personal property of protestors in deliberate indifference of the law.
“There is a disturbing pattern emerging – a flagrant disregard – of people’s rights to exercise their First Amendment privileges to free speech and assembly. These people who are being arrested and taken to jail for sleeping on the sidewalk are bonafide activists who participate almost daily in protests against government, big banks, and a whole slew of other issues facing all Americans today. Pitching a tent and sleeping on the sidewalk is an expression of free speech, yet TPD seems to think that the Tucson City Code trumps the United States Constitution. Who made the police the ones to decide what acceptable political expression is?” asks Occupy Tucson attorney Paul Gattone. “I feel strongly that a new civil rights lawsuit and federal injunction is definitely warranted given these ongoing atrocities.”
Among the illegal and irresponsible police actions are constantly-changing definitions of park and sidewalk boundaries and subsequently entrapping and arresting protestors; not allowing protestors to have anything except the clothes on their backs and a protest sign (no drinks, no food, no personal gear) when on the sidewalks of the Viente de Agosto park; refusing to return personal property confiscated in the DeAnza park raid unless protestors produce original sales receipts for each item; and harsh physical treatment of some occupiers choosing passive resistance in exercising civil disobedience.
These actions are an abuse of police power and cannot be tolerated by the citizens of Tucson. In keeping with the spirit of the Occupy Movement, Occupy Tucson will not allow these activities to go unchallenged.
Occupy Tucson demands that the Tucson Police Department and the City of Tucson take immediate corrective measures, institute new policies and procedures which respect the First Amendment rights of their fellow citizens, and cease all illegal actions against Occupy Tucson protestors.
Further details will be forthcoming at the press conference (see information above).