It’s always been a “wait and see” game.
Doug Denney thinks so. He’s waited to see how the Occupy Lawrence protests have come along and how their message and purpose have fluctuated as they’ve defied the city’s orders.
He protested against the Vietnam War and the Iraq War, and on Saturday, a few paces behind in the march, with a sign lamenting the death of the American dream, he joined in with the enthusiastic 20-somethings leading the Occupy Lawrence march.
“It’s wonderful to see another generation get involved,” he said.
As they vow to keep going, the occupiers, too, are now waiting — waiting to see what further steps the Lawrence Police Department and the city may take to remove them from South Park’s scattering of tents that have become their camp. They’re not leaving. Or most say they aren’t, at least.
Eight protesters were ticketed just before 2 a.m. Saturday for being in violation of city code 15-208, which states that city parks are to be closed from 11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Their citations come with a mandatory court date — Nov. 15 — and the possibility of fines and court costs, though it’s not clear how much the fines will be. The protesters said Saturday morning that a group of several officers approached them, told them they had 10 minutes to leave if they wanted to avoid the municipal ticket and then proceeded to ticket those who stayed.
They began rallying Oct. 8 and set up camp in the park Oct. 15. They had permission to stay 24 hours but continued to camp after that expired.
Branden Bell, of Bell Folsom, a law firm serving Douglas and Johnson counties, offered to represent any protesters criminally charged, “as long as there’s no violence,” he said.
“Expression of dissatisfaction with the status quo is protected speech,” he said. “Time, manner or place requirements shouldn’t thwart speech.”
Bell said he had not spoken with any of the members who got citations as of Saturday afternoon.
T.J. Campsey was one of those cited. He said he did not think the police action would be detrimental to the group, though fewer might have been likely to stay in the park Saturday night.
Campsey and others continued, their noon rally gathering about 40 people, apparently convinced of their causes. They rallied in front of the U.S. Bank at Ninth and Massachusetts streets and vowed to stay in the park another night, even if it meant arrest.
“We believe our right to peacefully assemble doesn’t end at 11:30,” he said.