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12 Most Absurd Laws Used to Stifle the Occupy Wall St. Movement Around the Country

As protests spring up in cities across the country, authorities are thinking up creative ways to contain this peaceful uprising.

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5) No Sitting or Lying Down

SFPD’s notice also informed protesters that they were in violation of a  sit-lie law that prohibits sitting or laying down on San Francisco sidewalks between 7am and 11pm. This criminal offense can result in a fine starting at $50 and possibly lead to jail time. 

6) No Obstructing the Pedestrian Walkway

Occupy Chicago faced major obstacles early on but has managed to remain intact. The group initially had trouble finding a place to occupy due to the city’s lack of publicly available land. Occupiers ultimately chose to set up camp on the public sidewalk surrounding Chicago’s Federal Reserve building. At first, police warned them not to lean up against the building, but that quickly evolved into a ban on the area 6 feet from the building (almost the entire sidewalk), followed by the enforcement of a  Chicago city ordinance preventing people from blocking the public way, aka sleeping or sitting on the sidewalk. (In NYC this is called “impeding pedestrian traffic.”)

7) No Private Belongings in Public Space

Chicago’s spur-of-the-moment version of San Francisco’s sit-lie law was made to apply to the private belongings of protesters as well. According to  In These Times, this forced them into “packing their gear into backpacks or putting it onto mobile carts for temporary relocation.” An update on the Occupy Chicago Web site alerted activists to “ Occupy Chicago, Phase 2 – Mobilization,” a new plan that would “make all things there 100% mobile, all bodies must be constantly moving, and absolutely no sitting/sleeping.”

8) Unaffordable Fees

The city of Dallas, Texas, demanded that Occupy Dallas  fork up $1 million for liability insurance if they want to keep their permit and continue occupying Pioneer Plaza past 5pm Friday (Oct. 14). That’s quite a hefty price for the working class, jobless and indebted students who make up the majority of protesters. As a result, Occupy Dallas took the city to court for unconstitutionally restricting their “right to peaceably demonstrate in traditional public forums."

Ultimately they reached a  deal that allows them to stay in Pioneer Plaza until Sunday (Oct. 16), then relocate to a spot behind City Hall until mid-December.   

9) No Potties

Occupy Dallas protesters have been walking a half-mile to use the nearest toilet since they started camping out in Pioneer Plaza because they could not afford the $1 million permit that would have allowed them to bring in a  Porta-Potty. Now, that is commitment!

10) No Masks

In NYC at least five protesters were arrested for violating a  state statute that dates back 150 years and prohibits masked gatherings of two or more people, with the exception of masquerade balls. With Halloween just weeks away, it will be interesting to see how the NYPD handles masked elementary kids hopped up on Sweet Tarts and Gummy Bears.

11) No Amplification…Mic Check?

After hearing that NYC protesters were required to have a permit to amplify sound, I would never in a million years have imagined a way around the bullhorn, microphone or speakers. I’m still mesmerized by the brilliance of the  human microphone, in which listeners loudly repeat a speaker's words in unison. I don’t think anyone, especially the NYPD, saw that coming. 

12) Mass Arrests, Excessive Force

Weeks ago, the nation watched as the NYPD trapped and  arrested over 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge. Protesters accused police of deliberately leading them to march onto the bridge only to arrest them hours later, suggesting that the move was coordinated from the top. Prior to the arrests, many Americans watched in disgust as videos surfaced of officers  indiscriminately macing protestors in Zuccotti Park. More recently, an officer was caught on tape  aggressively attacking protesters, including journalists, with a riot baton. Early this week, almost  150 people at Occupy Boston were arrested following a police raid that left some injured. 

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