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← Paul Levinson on Unconstitutionality of Bloomberg's Clearing Zuccotti Park

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Showing Revision 1 created 11/16/2011 by Claude Almansi.

  1. [Chuck Scarborough] Joining us now to talk about today's events is Paul Levinson.
  2. He is professor of communication and media studies at Fordham University. We thank you for being here, Professor.
  3. [Paul Levinson] Good to be here.
  4. [Scarborough] You're not very happy with the Mayor today. Why not?
  5. [Levinson] He shows an appalling ignorance of the First Amendment,
  6. or maybe he is not ignorant and he's choosing to willfully misunderstand it.
  7. He issued a statement that said: "The First Amendment pertains just to free speech."
  8. Apparently, he is unaware that it also restricts the government
  9. from interfering with freedom of the press, and freedom to peacefully assemble.
  10. And yet, as you mentioned, the media were prevented from covering
  11. what the Mayor and his police did earlier this morning.
  12. There was at least one NPR reporter who was hurt by police.
  13. The police, by the way, can't seem to disperse a crowd without hurting someone -
  14. [Scarborough] Well, there were no serious injuries and, you know,
  15. there was a lot - there was a bit of resistance going on: we've heard of the police
  16. they had to clear a lot of people who tried to - to not be cleared out.
  17. [Levinson] Well, but not from this NPR reporter, who was merely covering the story.
  18. Furthermore, what does "peaceable assemble" mean?
  19. Last time I looked at the First Amendment I didn't see an expiration date in there.
  20. Now, obviously, no one would expect anyone to be allowed to protest forever,
  21. but two months is a lot less than forever.
  22. [Scarborough] Do you think that peaceably assemble , or the right of people
  23. to peaceably assemble to air their grievances, as framed in the Constitution,
  24. gives them the right to pitch tents, to make encampments in that park?
  25. [Levinson] As long as those encampments don't endanger or hurt anyone, absolutely yes,
  26. Because an assemblage is not something that has to take place just in an hour, or even in a day.
  27. And as a matter of fact, if you look at assemblages over the years,
  28. many times, people have petitioned government for weeks at a time.
  29. So, I think it's perfectly reasonable to allow people to stay there
  30. as long as there is no violence, as long as they don't hurt anybody.
  31. [Scarborough] There was a collision of rights, here, wasn't there? In Zuccotti Park?
  32. The collision of property owners' rights with the rights of the protestors to peaceably assemble,
  33. the collision the home owners' rights to enjoy the quiet enjoyment of their property in the area?
  34. [Levinson] Let's say someone lives in a home, and someone moves in nextdoor,
  35. and you don't like that person's face,
  36. or you don't like the color of their house, you don't like the color it's painted,
  37. you don't like the music that you hear when you walk by.
  38. You don't like the fact that they have a dog that barks occasionally.
  39. Does that person have the right to insist that the other person move out?
  40. So no: I think clearly our country is based on an understanding
  41. that people have rights to express themselves as long as they don't hurt other people.
  42. If Bloomberg was so confident, why didn't he go to court beforehand?
  43. There wasn't some emergency that was erupting that the police had to be called in
  44. like thieves in the dark of night when no one could see what was happening.
  45. And it is true that later this afternoon, a very low-level judge agreed with the Mayor,
  46. but you know, I remember, in the Pentagon Papers case,
  47. there was a New York judge who supported Nixon, and -
  48. [Scarborough] You predicted that the Mayor would be overturned in court, and he wasn't today.
  49. [Levinson] Well, not today, but thank goodness, we have higher levels of court.
  50. [Scarborough] Alright, Professor, thank you for coming, we appreciate it.
  51. [Levinson] My pleasure.