The New York Civil Liberties Union today called on the Binghamton City Council to respect free speech by rejecting a proposed ordinance to ban camping in city parks.

Occupy Binghamton demonstrators had camped in the city’s Liberty Park for several months with the express approval of Mayor Matt Ryan. The day before the demonstrators were evicted in January, the proposed ordinance was introduced to the council.

“This legislation is an attempt to retaliate against Occupy Binghamton demonstrators,” said Barrie Gewanter, director of the NYCLU’s Central New York Chapter. “We ask the council to reject this proposal and not obstruct peaceful protesters who only wish to express their views without harassment from the city.”

In a letter to the City Council, the NYCLU maintains that the proposed measure is unconstitutional and clearly designed to punish Occupy Binghamton.

“The First Amendment provides a floor, not a ceiling, for protection of free speech,” Gewanter said. “Occupy Binghamton demonstrators complied when the city evicted the Liberty Park campsite. The city ought to respect the demonstrators’ right to exercise their free speech in other ways.”