Monday, December 22, 2014

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Federal judge finds City Hall bans unconstitutional

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A federal judge ruled Thursday in favor of two members of Occupy Austin who said their year-long bans from City Hall were unconstitutional.

In his ruling, U.S. Federal District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that bans from City Hall as punishment for criminal trespass are unconstitutional.

In the case, two demonstrators with the Austin branch of the nationwide Occupy Wall Street movement sued the city for banning them from City Hall after they were arrested for criminal trespass. The protesters say the year-long ban from City Hall property is a new and unfair policy adopted after the protests kicked off in early October.

Rudy Sanchez, one of the plaintiffs, was one of 37 arrested the night of October 30th in front of City Hall. The demonstrators acted in a display of civil disobedience as police worked to confiscate a table used to hold food and, later in the night, cleared the way for cleaning crews tasked to keep the plaza clean.

Sanchez’s co-plaintiff, Kris Sleeman, was arrested less than a day later and charged with the same crime.

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