Occupy Rochester: 32 Protesters Arrested 1/2





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Published on Nov 3, 2011

It was a long morning in court for protesters arrested during Friday night's Occupy Rochester.

"We made sure we were prepared for it. It's what I expected it to be," said Owen Arthur, protester.

In all, 32 protesters were arrested and arraigned in city court Friday night. Many posted about a $200 bail, pleaded not guilty, and were issued a next court date.

"I don't know why it was such a problem to be there. We weren't trying to cause any harm to anybody. It was a peaceful protest, trying to get our message out," said Arthur.

Most who were arrested felt it was unfair for the city to enforce its 11 p.m. curfew at Washington Square Park during their protest.

"It's kinda frustrating that Rochester is the first city in New York to expel peaceful protesters from a park in this situation," said Alex White, protester.

"I'm calling out Mayor Richards right now. He needs to get on board with this because he has been the first mayor in New York State to forcibly evict and occupation," said DJ Krause, protester.

RIT photojournalism student Jonathan Foster was also hauled off to jail. He was cover the event for his school's magazine.

"I tried to make it very apparent. I wore the shirt for the magazine I work for over my jacket. It says 'reporter' across my chest," said Foster. "I was acting within the range of other media actions there and I was treated that way."

Before Friday night's protest, the city released a statement reiterating its code and policy. City officials say while they support first amendment rights, they have a responsibility to ensure demonstrators respect the rights of all citizens to have access to public facilities and that health and safety of all citizens are protected.

City of Rochester Responds to Protest Arrests

Statement by Mayor Thomas S. Richards on Protest Arrests (Saturday, Oct. 30, 2011) - I would like to commend Police Chief James Sheppard and the men and women of the Rochester Police Department for their professional and courteous management of the situation at Washington Square Park last night. Enforcing the law, especially among large crowds, is a difficult task. As we stated yesterday, the City supports our citizens' First Amendment rights and we have always provided many opportunities for the safe exercise of those rights. We always try and work with those who want to use City streets and public areas for demonstrations and marches, whether by issuing permits or providing safe passage for such activities. Last night we reached out to the demonstrators to communicate the City's cooperation with their protest march and to reiterate the City's Code, policies and laws regarding usage of the park. We issued a public statement to media. We posted the law and ordinances on oversized signs at each entrance of Washington Square Park. Those signs were torn down and destroyed. We then handed out flyers with the same information to those in the park. Chief Sheppard personally addressed the individuals in the park several times informing them of the City's intent to enforce the law. Before any enforcement activity took place, the Chief again warned those in the park and gave them ample time to vacate. We wanted to ensure that anyone in the park had clear information of what would occur. Those who chose to stay, chose to be arrested. To their credit, it was an orderly process with Chief Sheppard personally making the arrests. As Mayor, it is my responsibility to ensure that demonstrators respect the right of all citizens to have access to public facilities and that the health and safety of all citizens is protected. The laws and ordinances of the City of Rochester prohibit camping and establish the hours of operation in our City parks. Those policies and regulations have been developed over time to ensure that public health, safety and very importantly, public access to such areas is maintained. A march on public sidewalks must still allow for other pedestrians, who have every right to use the sidewalks. Traffic devices must be obeyed as those using our streets have a right to pass through our city. Public areas are meant for use by the entire public and not for the few. Washington Square Park was meant for public use and enjoyment and not to be covered in tents or to be lived in. Selective enforcement in other cities has lead to confusion and confrontation. The City will continue to welcome the First Amendment activities of citizens who want to voice their concerns to their government. However, we ask in turn that those who engage in such activity respect the rights of others and respect the free access to public spaces for all of our citizens.




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