BOSTON — A Massachusetts judge has rejected a request by Occupy Boston for an injunction barring the city from removing protesters from their encampment in the city’s financial district.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Frances McIntyre ruled Wednesday the protesters have no First Amendment right “to seize and hold” the park where they are camping, and must abide by city regulations. Their lawyers had argued the camp is protected by free speech guarantees.
In a statement, Mayor Thomas Menino applauded the ruling and urged the camp to disband.
“The city strongly encourages the Occupy movement to abide by the Rose Kennedy Greenway regulations and remove their tents and refrain from camping in that area,” Menino said.
The mayor said conditions at the camp “have deteriorated significantly and pose very real health and safety risks.”
At a Dec. 1 hearing, Boston’s fire marshal testified that the tent city has numerous serious fire hazards and he feared for the protesters’ safety.
The city did not indicate any immediate plans to evict protesters.
McIntyre had granted the group’s request for a temporary restraining order in November, ruling that police could not remove them or their tents without prior court approval.
“This decision clears the way, but does not order” protesters to leave, Wednesday’s ruling said.
“One protester I spoke with said she thinks the ruling will energize the movement,” reported WBUR’s Steve Brown, from Dewey Square. “She said many protesters who have been away from the encampment are now returning.
“Another said she wasn’t surprised by the ruling, adding they know that they would not be able to keep this encampment here forever, and they’re preparing for whatever may come next.”
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom
– Here’s the judge’s ruling (on Scribd):