OccupyMaine Responds to City in Press Release; “OM” Attorney Writes City Attorney

Portland Attorney and Legal Advisor to OccupyMaine, John Branson, Joins the Protestors

By Carol McCracken (Post # 900)

On Wednesday, October 5th, OccupyMaine applied for a permit from Parks and Recreation in order to setup a canopy in Monument Square during inclement weather. The application, filed by OccupyMaine’s legal advisor, John H. Branson, was met with a distressing reply from city official Ted Musgrave, according to a press release just issued by OccupyMaine.

Musgrave, not accustomed to approving the use of city property for 1st Amendment purposes for spans of time longer than eight to sixteen hours, decided to give OccupyMaine “permission” to operate in the square under protection of the First Amdndment for no longer than one week, the press release continued.

OccupyMaine will not, under any circumstance, seek permission from the City of Portland to exercise its constitutional rights of speech and asembly in a public space nor are they required to do so under the Portland City Code or the Constitution. To demand it do so is a flagrant case of prior restraint. As Branson respsonded in a letter to the city’s corporation council, “Mr. Musgrave’s suggestion that my clients did not have the city’s permission to exercise their first amendment rights of speech and asembly for more than a week amounts to prior restraint on speech that is flatly unconstitutional.”

Musgrave advised Branson that the Department of Parks & Recreation does not issue permits for structures on City property. However, corporate structures have becone an established presence in Monument Square. As recently as this past February, Sugarloaf and Sunday River have been permitted to use this public space to construct a 20-foot tall ski slope in the middle of the square.

Contrary to the treatment of corporations which have been able to exercise their free speech and have been permitted to erect structures in public space for private gain, OccupyMaine is being denied the right to exercise its collective, non-commercial speech, a right protected by the First Amendment.

This is precisely the type of injustice OccupyMaine is protesting against. They have not and will not seek “permission” from the City of Portland to assemble, speak and occupy our public space.

For more information, please email Occupymaine@gmail.com
For additional information, please read Post # 899 herein.