Judge: City of Austin Policy Violates Free Speech


Jordan Smith
Austin Chronicle
September 27, 2012

photo
A woman struggles with Austin Police officers as they clear
the City Hall plaza of Occupy Austin protesters. The woman
got away without getting arrested.

Federal District Judge Lee Yeakel has concluded that the city’s use of criminal trespass notices to scatter Occupy Austin protesters from city-owned property late last year violates the First Amendment’s free speech protection, according to a judgment entered today.

The ruling comes nearly a year after protestors Rudy Sanchez and Kristopher Sleeman sued the city over it’s hastily issued policy last fall, during Occupy Austin’s encampment at City Hall, regarding the issuance of criminal trespass notices to individuals on city-owned property.

According to Yeakel, the policy is “unconstitutional on its face,” and “does not serve as a valid time, place, and manner restriction and is not narrowly tailored to achieve a significant public interest,” which are necessary to restrict otherwise constitutionally-protected free speech activities.

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