ACLU, Constitutional Law, Free Speech, Politics, Wall Street

Are Occupiers Finally Learning The Value Of Competent Lawyering?

I’ve said from the beginning that while the goals of the Occupy Wall Street crowd were not wrong, their tactics have been lacking. The denizens of “Wall Street” (at least not in its geographic form) didn’t cause the collapse of the American economy; they’re just trying to figure out how to profit from it. There’s been an entire legal structure erected to protect the banking industry; wagging your fingers at them isn’t going to do a whole hell of a lot.

And it’s not like “the banks” or whoever can’t fight back. Occupiers might be angry at Wall Street or corporate America or whoever, but it’s “the law” that will be in charge of actually crushing their little movement. The people in Oakland already saw what the police can do. And the police are just the storm troopers of the military-industrial complex. City ordinances, curfews, and unsympathetic judges: these are the people and things that can turn Occupy Wall Street into Alderaan.

But maybe the protesters are starting to understand the true power of the dark side. And maybe they’ll have some new hope if they get some fully trained lawyers on their side (as opposed to non-lawyer volunteers)….

Members of Occupy Nashville fought the law with lawyers. And now they have an they have an honest-to-God victory to celebrate. The Tennessean reports:

State officials capitulated to Occupy Nashville protesters Monday and agreed to stop arresting people for violating a newly imposed curfew on Legislative Plaza. A federal judge said regulations created last week in response to the protest were “not legally’’ put forward by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration.

The state backed down in the face of a federal lawsuit filed Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee on behalf of Occupy Nashville. The lawsuit alleged that the arrests and the new regulations were violations of the protesters’ First Amendment rights. The ACLU requested a temporary restraining order. State attorneys did not object at a hearing Monday afternoon, and U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger granted the request.

It’s funny — we can talk a lot about how the rules are skewed to favor this group or that one, but the point is that there are rules. They can be bent, but they can’t really be broken. The Occupiers don’t have a Neo.

And so they’re going to have to play by the rules for change. Change that happens slowly; change that happens incrementally. Change that happens at a ballot box or a courthouse.

Change that happens only with persistence. That’s something that lawyers can help them with. Lawyers are good at relentlessly keeping up with an issue for years, long after the last protester has gone home.

Occupy Nashville arrests end [Tennessean]


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