Mayor Michael Bloomberg can have his way with the Occupy Wall Street protesters. According to the Associated Press, Justice Michael Stallman of New York Supreme Court just shot down the Temporary Restraining Order sought by the protesters against Mayor Bloomberg.
November 15th, 2011, there was a riot in the streets, tell me where were you? While you were at home watching your T.V., I was participating in some anarchy.
Well, there wasn’t really a riot in the streets. And I wasn’t really participating in it so much as taking the 5 train to work today. But I did bump into some would-be Occupy Wall Street protesters looking to join the movement after the main group was evicted from Zuccotti Park under the cover of darkness early this morning. The people on the train asked for my legal advice.
I laughed — then told them I could do them one better. Let’s see if we can’t crowdsource a legal recourse for the Occupy protesters now that big bad Bloomberg has put his jackboot on the movement….
Dear police officers: next time you simply must beat unarmed protesters who are not threatening you, maybe you shouldn’t do it in front of a law school.
Many of you have heard about the beatings that took place at UC Berkeley’s Occupy Berkeley protests on Wednesday night. The police brutality wasn’t particularly brutal, so much as it was entirely uncalled for.
The Berkeley legal blog Nuts & Boalts sums up what should be the feeling of any person concerned about the laws of this country: “Regardless of how you feel about the Occupation, this behavior by police against unarmed, non-violent protestors is not only illegal, but is shameful.”
If you haven’t seen the video, it’s below. Just as disturbing as the actual footage is the facile message Berkeley Law students received before the event that was a warning that the police were going to be totally unreasonable about the situation….
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)….
A wheelchair-bound Oaklander in the tear gas fog. That's hardcore.
It has been a strange couple of days. I woke up on Tuesday at 5:30 a.m. to finish some writing. It was still dark, but I heard several helicopters buzzing near my house. I checked Twitter and discovered several hundred police officers were clearing out the Occupy Oakland tent city a few miles away.
Well, I wasn’t expecting the morning’s eviction to turn into a national media s**t storm. By Tuesday evening, somewhere around 500 people were marching through downtown Oakland. Police told them to go home, but they didn’t. People started throwing things at police. Police launched tear gas. By the time things wound down at around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, police had fired several rounds of tear gas and beanbags at protesters, and there were various semi-confirmed reports of rubber bullets, flash grenades, and even a sound cannon.
Why do you care? Well, it turns out these protesters are not just deadbeats and drug addicts. There were several lawyers in the crowd, too. We spoke with a few of them, starting with Shahid Buttar. He is a Stanford Law School grad and the Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. He spent Tuesday afternoon lecturing on privacy in a UC Berkeley journalism class, then spent the night getting tear gassed in downtown Oakland….
Three protesters on their way to Occupy Wall Street. Fellow New Yorkers, note the Duane Reade shopping bag.
Over the weekend, I realized that I needed some new white dress shirts. So I headed downtown to the Brooks Brothers at One Liberty Plaza here in Manhattan.
One Liberty Plaza — also the home of another white-shoe institution, the Cleary Gottlieb law firm — happens to be located across the street from Zuccotti Park, site of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Since I was going to be in the neighborhood, I decided to pay a visit to OWS, keeping an eye out for law-related angles to the event.
I brought my trusty camera and reporter’s notebook, so I could record my impressions and interview some of the protesters. What did I observe?
Reading the Wall Street Journal would probably be better than occupying the street itself.
No mob has ever changed the course of history. I’m sure we can all point out some famous mobs, but if you look beyond rabble, there is always a smart person or organization who knows how to use and manipulate the mob in order to make it an agent of change. French people organized in the streets a lot, and it took a Robespierre to turn them into a revolution. Angry poor white people have been ridiculously pissed off since the Civil Rights movement, and it took a Grover Norquist to turn that passion into an anti-tax platform that’s against the economic interest of the very mob that advocates it.
For the last two weeks, the Occupy Wall Street people have been a mob — a leaderless, unfocused, and harmless mob. They’re not even violent. And so they are (for some) easy to dismiss, ignore, and deride.
The lawyers in the audience should be thankful for that. Because if this collection of people could get their act together, they wouldn’t be occupying Wall Street. They’d be occupying K Street. They’d be occupying First Street. They’d be sitting in the lobby of the Lipstick Building or the Death Star asking questions of the people who help “the banks” get around any regulation the overmatched SEC can come up with.
The Occupy Wall Street people have no frame of reference; they’re like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know… look, they’re just out of their element….
A video has surfaced from this weekend’s somewhat ludicrous “Occupy Wall Street” protests. The protests themselves have been barely newsworthy. Hippies and kids mostly — the North Koreans have better organization when preparing a dance routine.
But one kid, one kid who is currently a student at George Washington University Law School, set the protest on fire with his plaintive, whiny, pathetic rantings, as he literally begged to be arrested.
You’re going to want to see this video. It’s a great example of how NOT to use your legal training to bring about meaningful change….
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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