Members of Occupy Cincinnati, a group taking part in the larger Occupy Wall Street Movement, are appealing nearly $22,000 in fines they have accrued as individuals that refused to heed police officer warnings.
It may surprise some to know that generally speaking, you actually need a permit to organize a protest. This gives city officials and police officers the ability to close streets, plan alternate traffic plans, provide security, and the like.
Occupy Cincinnati had obtained permits, but refused to leave the relevant location after the time their permit expired. They even moved their protests to alternative parks past the hours the park was open. The police warned that if they did not leave, they would face potential arrest or fines, and followed through with the threats. Thus, over a few days of the demonstrations, the members accumulated over $22,000 in fines.
The protesters claim that, "the threat of arrest, citation, and imposition of fines has imposed a 'chilling effect,' whereby individual members of Occupy Cincinnati and others have feared for their safety, liberty and economic consequences that may be imposed should they choose to exercise fundamental rights of freedom of expression, assembly and of the press."
Courts have long held that government officials retain the right to create Time, Place, and Manner restrictions to ensure that free speech demonstrations do not result in unsafe or unreasonable demonstrations. For example, in some cases, people cannot stand in the middle of the sidewalk, preventing others from passing by, or forcing them into the street in order to pass.
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