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Protesters press on after loss in court

Published: Thu, November 17, 2011 @ 12:05 a.m.


By David Skolnick



Now that a magistrate has rejected Occupy Youngstown’s request for a temporary restraining order to permit the group to use a tent and burn barrel in Central Square, its members are focusing on a Dec. 1 court hearing.

The group and 11 of its members filed a request Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for a TRO as well as for preliminary and permanent injunctions against the city, its mayor and police chief.

The group contends the city violated the rights of Occupy Youngstown members to free speech and assembly as well as to protection against unreasonable seizure of their possessions.

City police and firefighters confiscated a tent, burn barrel, three chairs and other items Friday. City officials say they don’t object to the group’s picketing in Central Square, but the tent and burn barrel as well as tarps, sleeping bags and wood violate city ordinances.

“No one is preventing their ability to speak,” said city Law Director Anthony Farris. “We are making no attempt to remove them, stop them from speaking or holding signs. We’re not inhibiting speech. We are just enforcing our ordinances the same way we enforce ordinances in any other part of the city.”

The filing also sought the return of the items taken from Occupy Youngstown last week.

Police Chief Rod Foley said his department returned the tent to Jim Villani, who owns the Pig Iron Press and is an Occupy Youngstown member, on Wednesday before the hearing. Villani, with a receipt for the purchase, went to the police station to claim it.

“I told him not to put the tent back up,” Foley said.

A few hours after Kim Akins, an attorney representing the group, filed the requests Wednesday, Magistrate Timothy G. Welsh rejected the TRO request.

Before the decision to deny the TRO, Akins said: “The court was impressed by the number of issues raised.”

But in his decision to deny the temporary restraining order, Welsh wrote: “This case presents not only conflicting factual issues but conflicting constitutional issues.”

A TRO is sought to keep the status quo, Welsh wrote. Because the tent and burn barrel were confiscated by city police and firefighters last week, the group’s TRO request “does not preserve the status quo, but, rather, alters it,” he wrote.

The two sides will be in front of Welsh on Dec. 1 to argue Occupy Youngstown’s request for a preliminary injunction to permit the tent, barrel and other items to return to the group’s downtown protest location.

Mayor Charles Sammarone said he met Monday with a few of Occupy members to discuss the ongoing controversy.

Sammarone said he “enjoyed talking with them,” adding he agrees with their positions on working to reduce poverty and unemployment.

But, as mayor, Sammarone said he has to uphold the laws of the city.

“I give them credit for going through the courts,” he said. “They did it the right way.”


1webad(156 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

This mayor is disengaged from the suffering of the people. He seems only marginally concerned about the Occupy Youngstown movement to draw attention to the crooks and liars on Wall Street. Uphold what law? There is no law limiting this kind of assembly and free speech. Anyway, the laws of Youngstown, Ohio lost legitimacy decades ago. The laws always have been applied only arbitrarily in Youngstown.

It's no surprise that a high poverty level, after all the misery, still exists. The citizens brought those conditions upon themselves by doing nothing when they should have been demanding all of their rights. The TRO is about more than the tent and burn barrel. Those are mere symbols for the larger issue ... constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. Why not start engaging your oppressors now. Join the occupiers. Support them in their legal fight for your rights. They've got your backs, after all. Otherwise, Youngstowners have no standing to complain about jobless conditions which have always been caused by fat cats like the Wall Street bankers.

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2NBees(53 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

OY is part of never-ending "everything is broken" movement following Gene Sharp's how-to books on revolutions (From Dictatorship to Democracy, etc. if you care to google. Same books were printed in Arabic, etc. for Arab Spring uprisings, and Optor revolutionists from Serbia are now trainers for hire using these methods.) The thing is... they are not going away. They have an agenda... most of them do not know what it is yet because this method of revolution requires building up a huge following before revealing precisely what they want. RIght now, it is in the discontent stage. We are supposed to say yeah, I'm one of the 99% and join them.

I agree with our mayor - city ordinances must be upheld, free speech and assembly rights do NOT include the right to camp anywhere you darn well please. Okay, so OY is only a pretend occupy, ran like a union strike in shifts, so the tent was more storage shed than shelter, but with the ongoing nature of this movement, one tent will lead to 100 tents as time goes by, especially as other occupy locations forbid tents and protesters migrate to where they are allowed. This protest can go on for years!

I can see allowing a burn barrel in winters, with safety compliance, since it is ran like a union strike - but no tents or tons of junk. That blue tarp and all that crap up there is a horrid mess. Why not store all that crap at Pig Iron or Lemon Grove or even a van parked nearby? And why do they need chairs when they have already taken over the benches?

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3webad(156 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

LosersNeverWin thinks only of him/herself. He lives in a fantasy world of his own creation ... making up the story as he goes along. He begins by writing into his mental script that I live in Youngstown. He is incorrect. That original daydream delegitimizes any of his further points. He imagined it, he wrote it, he was wrong. I love Youngstown because I was born and raised there. My people are there. I am a Youngstowner at my core. Because of the majority's mean-spiritedness and refusal to hold themselves accountable for their own problems both personal and political, I left as soon as I graduated from college. There are Occupy demonstrations in my chosen home city and I'm there.

I am not the enemy here. Just because LosersNeverWin has a decent job doesn't mean that his friends and neighbors do. For the those of you with unemployed or underemployed loved ones, choosing a comparatively short time looking at some mess in the downtown area rather than accepting a lifetime of slavery to Wall Street, seems like a no-brainer. Many of you do not like hearing this ... but the jobless conditions in Youngstown Ohio are your own faults because you still lay back and let it happen. Take responsibility. Deal with it. Do something about it.

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4walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I made the same point about rights vs. responsibilities in previous posts but I was allied to Stan and called a gadfly by a commie who is suffering from that disease called "liberalism". I think if the protestors should take their sleeping bags to city hall or the post office to stay warm since, after all, this is public space and I wouldn't want to abridge their "free speech" rights.

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5Fred(131 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

If I had the time I would go downtown and hang out with the protesters.

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6TheLocalYokel(4 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Wall St is corrupt. The government is letting them get away with murder, right? I think the best form of civil disobedience for these occupiers would be to burn their welfare checks and food stamps. Why would these people take hand outs from their oppressors? If that's what they want their burn barrel for, I support them 110%. Right now, they're just biting the hand that feeds them. Even an animal can tell that's a bad idea.

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7webad(156 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

There are more than two choices, LocalYokel. Free your mind and your ass will follow.

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8webad(156 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

And sobchak ... don't pay any attention to me if I am wrong about your being a gadfly. If the shoe fits, wear it. if it doesn't fit, then don't. I'm not wearing the commie shoe you tried to put me in.

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9walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any
man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains. I believe the shoe fits quite nicely!

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10TheLocalYokel(4 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I just think that there are better things out there to do. I like the idea of feeding the hungry at the protests. I think the occupy movement would get a lot more good press and respect if everybody walked into a shelter, or a home for battered women, or any kind of charity. Just show up and say, "I want to work. I can't get a job, but I have something to offer." Involve the press. Make your argument heard. I think the movement would take off even more than it has. People would be totally blown away by hundreds or thousands of people demonstrating that they want to work that badly.

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