BOSTON — Boston could be a step closer to evicting the Occupy protesters in Dewey Square.
The city has filed a 200-page court motion arguing that the encampment raises public safety and health concerns, and that the city should be able to evict demonstrators if necessary. The city says the protesters have the right to free speech, but they have no right to live on public property.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told WBUR he has no immediate plans to evict demonstrators, though.
“We have no plans at this time to remove anybody from Dewey Square,” Menino said. “We just wanted to show the judge the issues that are faced at the Dewey Square location — health issues, public safety issues, other issues that pertain to the area that occupiers have taken over.”
He added, “I don’t think they can stay there forever, but I think it’s not the time to talk about it at all. They have a court order in place and I respect that court order even though I don’t agree with it.”
Earlier this month, a Boston judge temporarily blocked the city’s ability to oust Occupy Boston. That order lasts until Thursday, when another court hearing is scheduled.
The head of the Massachusetts ACLU says it will fight any Occupy Boston eviction.
“We’re not trying to tie the hands of the city or of the police department to do what their supposed to do, which is to keep the public safety,” Carole Rose said. “It’s worked so far. We’d really like to keep the status quo in place.
“We’re hoping that whatever the city decides to do, they’re going to do it in the openness of daylight and with advance notice and so the people who don’t want to engage in civil disobedience have the opportunity to leave.”
Occupy Boston leaders on Wednesday urged fellow protesters to make contingency plans in case police remove their encampment, following Thursday’s court hearing.
– Here’s the city’s the 200-page court filing (on Scribd):