Friday, November 11, 2011

Legal Analysis of Mayor Slay's Decision to Remove OccupySTL

Fox 2 News had lawyer Chet Pleban on yesterday to analyze the legality of Mayor Slay removing the occupiers from Kiener Plaza. For some reason I can't embed the video, but you can watch it here. It's pretty clear both people on the program have a lot of biases about the occupiers. The clip starts with them linking the Anonymous hacking to the St. Louis group, despite the fact that the Mayor's spokesperson Richard Callow said he didn't think the hacker was part of OccupySTL. They also call the part of the legal interpretation that says Slay is justified in kicking the occupiers out "the good news," later suggest that they're worried about riots from the group, and lament that horrible time in U.S. history known as the 60s. So yeah, it's pretty clear who they're rooting for.

However, what I thought was interesting is that Pleban suggested that while St. Louis City would normally be justified in removing they occupiers (a claim I'm sure Occupy STL disagrees with), the city is now in a pickle because they waited a full month to take any action. So it sounds like he thinks they need to provide some legal justification for why they made the change. I find this interesting because it seems to track the trajectory of my own thoughts.

I previously stated that I could understand why the city felt like it had to enforce the codes on the books. However, I objected when Slay's Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford suddently tried to suggest (on Dana Loesch's radio show) that something had changed and that the occupiers were no longer "not harming anyone." It seems to me that he has not provided sufficient justification for that claim, and if the decision really was the result only of complaints from groups like Bank of America, then it does seem like a change in policy based on a decision to prevent the occupiers from speaking out (quite effectively) against corporatism run amok. Thus, following policy consistently from the beginning might not have been a violation of First Amendment. But changing how they enforce the policy based on the fact that the message was offending local businesses seems like it would be a restriction of free speech.

This is why last night I filled a Sunshine law request with the Mayor's office to try to ascertain what the actual complaints were, and to compare them to statements in support of the occupation. I'll let you know what I find out.


  1. Johnathan McFarlandNovember 12, 2011 at 7:54 AM

    I can not wait to find out how many and what the complaints were. I am very interested in the findings.

  2. Great idea! I too would love to see the complaints, I would imagine that alot of these complaints were not even from St Louis, but from bloggers and tweeters from all over the country prompted by Slays new friends from from a certain little radio station downtown........

  3. Excellent observation.
    I'd really like to know more about what caused the sudden impatience. He just couldn't wait to see if the approaching cold weather would cause the OSL movement to fizzle on its own? (I support the cause, but I was wondering how many would remain when it got to be consistently freezing cold.)
    The suggestion that Occupy should move on because of the "coming holidays" was soooo lame.
    One last observation: the Obama campaign is opening its St. Louis office downtown on Washington Ave. on Monday. Did they ask fellow Dem Slay to "resolve" the occupy issue before their unveiling?

  4. The anchor in question, John Pertzborn, has a long history of having right-wing biases injected during political segments.