A judge in Cook County, Illinois on Thursday dismissed over 90 cases against Occupy Chicago activists on the grounds that they violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Judge Thomas Donnelly declared that the city’s park curfew law that was used to arrest activists in Grant Park last October was “unconstitutional both on its face and as applied and all complaints in this case are dismissed with prejudice,” according to the Chicago chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG).
“The Occupy Chicago demonstrators were subject to constantly changing rules and regulations that ended in a directive that they had to be constantly moving in order to protest,” the judge explained in his 37-page opinion (PDF). “Viewed in isolation the rules and regulations appear reasonable, but viewed in the larger context of the Occupy movement’s presence in Chicago, they give rise to the inference that the City was attempting to discourage this particular protest.”
“The police would promulgate a rule; when the protesters would comply, the police would change the rule,” he added. “These facts, together with the clear pattern of selective enforcement of the Curfew, support a finding that the city intended to discriminate against the Defendants based on their views.”
NLG attorney Sarah Gelsomino, who represented the activists, said that Donnelly “made the right decision by declaring the city’s ordinance unconstitutional and by dismissing the remaining cases brought by the city against activists legitimately engaged in free speech.”
Chicago Law Department spokesperson Roderick Drew told the Chicago Tribune that the city would appeal the ruling.