January 17, 2012 — The New York Civil Liberties Union today called on Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner to halt plans to evict Occupy Syracuse protesters from Perseverance Park tomorrow morning.
"The planned eviction is sudden and unexpected, unnecessary, and would infringe on free speech rights," said Barrie Gewanter, director of the NYCLU’s Central New York Chapter. "We’re confident the city’s concerns can be addressed through discussion between the city and demonstrators. Syracuse has set a good example by allowing the protesters to express themselves in the park. It would be a shame to spoil that record with a hasty eviction of the park."
In a letter sent today to Mayor Miner, the NYCLU maintains that the demonstrators have addressed the city’s concerns regarding the use of heaters in the park, removing the need for any urgent action and allowing time to work out any issues through dialogue.
In November, the NYCLU brokered an agreement between the City of Rochester and Occupy Rochester protesters to allow the demonstrators to camp in the city’s Washington Square Park. The NYCLU also helped broker a similar agreement in Buffalo allowing Occupy demonstrators to remain camped in the city’s Niagara Square.
"The First Amendment sets the floor, not the ceiling, for protection of free expression," Gewanter said. "It is entirely appropriate for the city to work with demonstrators to find a solution that both address public safety concerns and respects free speech."