OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) – A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on Friday to block Oklahoma City from forcibly ousting Occupy protesters from a downtown park where they have bought daily permits to stay after hours.
U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGuisti issued the order after protesters, who argue they have a constitutional right to assemble peacefully in the park all day and night, were told by the city they would no longer be allowed to spend the night.
Protesters aligned with the Occupy Wall Street movement against economic inequality and excesses of the financial system have since mid-October bought a $55-per-day permit to stay in the park after an 11 p.m. curfew.
DeGuisti has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to determine if a temporary injunction should be issued against the city.
City officials decided not to renew the overnight permits because of disturbances in the park and reports that mostly homeless persons rather political protesters stay overnight in a cluster of a dozen or so tents that have been erected.
Officials in cities across the country, strapped by budget deficits and short tax revenues due to the recession, have pushed to vacate encampments by protesters. The Occupy movement began in Zuccoti Park in downtown Manhattan, but protesters were cleared from that site two weeks ago.
In San Francisco, police have erected barricades around a park where hundreds of protesters are bracing for eviction after failing to agree to a city plan for relocating their camp. More than 300 arrests were made in Los Angeles earlier this week as police cleared an Occupy encampment.
A judge in Seattle on Friday rejected a bid by Occupy activists to block their eviction from a community college, clearing the way for the city to remove them as early as next week.
(Reporting by Steve Olafson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Bohan)
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[Flickr image by Fastfwd01.]