STATE – A Superior Court judge ordered the return of possessions seized from Occupy Trenton protesters at the city’s World War II Memorial last month.
“This is a victory in our efforts to secure full free speech rights for Occupy Trenton,” said ACLU-NJ Legal Director Ed Barocas. “The state cannot arbitrarily create restrictive policies just because it does not like how people are using a public space.”
When they first arrived at Veterans Park on State Street on Oct. 6, protesters brought blankets, laptops, a small generator, coolers of food and tarps in case of rain. A week later, New Jersey’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs 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, items not in someone’s immediate possession were confiscated.
Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson ordered the state to return the protesters’ possessions by Nov. 14 and ruled that the protesters could maintain a continuous 24-hour-a-day presence at the park or the memorial. State officials may enforce rules preventing the protesters from erecting structures such as tents, using a gas generator, or attaching anything to the walls of the memorial. The judge also noted that nothing in her order permits the permits the protesters to sleep in Veterans Park.
The protesters’ lawsuit against the new rules will get a hearing on Dec. 19.
Note: This corrects an earlier version of the article.
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