TRENTON — The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey went to court this week to argue that the New Jersey’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is violating the rights of Occupy Trenton protesters.
When protesters first arrived at Veterans Park on State Street on Oct. 6, they brought blankets, laptops, a small generator, coolers of food and tarps in case of rain. A week later, the DMAVA issued new guidelines prohibiting protesters from using the site as a campground. Camping and picnicking items were prohibited, as were generators and any unattended personal property.
On Oct. 14, officials confiscated items that were not in someone’s immediate possession.
The ACLU-NJ argued that the state is using the restrictions as a way to “chill” the protesters’ free speech.
“The state cannot arbitrarily create restrictive policies just because it does not like how people are using a public space,” said ACLU-NJ Legal Director Ed Barocas. “Laws must be created pursuant to proper process, not created by executive fiat.”
Judge Mary Jacobson did not make an immediate ruling on Wednesday, but is expected to decide whether the state can legally enforce the new guidelines soon.
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