Class Action Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed in Federal Court on Behalf of Occupy Seattle Protesters
December 6, 2011.
Attorneys from the Seattle law firm Keller/Rohrback have agreed to represent protesters who have been banned from state property by the Washington State Patrol during demonstrations at the state capitol building in Olympia, Washington.
The case has been filed with the UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT TACOMA (CASE NO. C11-5994RJB).
United States District Judge ROBERT J. BRYAN ordered the first hearing to convene at 11:30 AM Dec. 5th at the Federal Courthouse in Tacoma.
The attorneys are asking the court to issue a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to stop the WSP’s practice of banning protesters who have not been charged with any crime.
The Occupy Seattle legal team has stated that these actions by the WSP violate the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly as guaranteed by the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Protesters who have been detained by police are being warned that they are prohibited from entering the state capitol campus grounds and nearby parks which are owned by the State of Washington.
Protesters who have subsequently challenged the WSP ban by attending the demonstrations have been arrested at the state capitol and charged with criminal trespass. They have been prohibited from visiting the capitol campus for one year.
Journalist Mark Taylor-Canfield is the lead plaintiff in the case. He was detained by Washington State Patrol officers on Nov. 28th and banned from the capitol campus for 30 days. Taylor-Canfield and his lawyers maintain that the WSP ban also violates the constitution’s guarantee to freedom of the press because his is being barred from covering the protests as a journalist. Since he can’t attend the demonstrations at the state capitol without facing arrest, he is being prohibited from serving as a witness, conducting interviews with protesters, or doing live reports from the scene.
The plaintiff also maintains that the “no trespass” orders are being given to persons without due process of law. Therefore, the lawsuit claims that both the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendments have been violated by the Washington State Patrol in these cases.