Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Protecting The Right To Peacefully Assemble

Occupy Salt Lake City began on Thursday, October 6, with a march from the State Capitol through downtown to Pioneer Park where a tent encampment was set up and continues today.

The ACLU of Utah has been communicating with the SLCPD as well as the City of Salt Lake to ensure that Occupy SLC's peaceful assembly at, and occupation of Pioneer Park, will continue without government infringement.  So far the City has been issuing 24 hour permits, granting the demonstrators the right to peacefully occupy the Park.  The City has confirmed to the ACLU of Utah that  the protestors’ permits to occupy Pioneer Park will continue to be renewed on a daily basis so long as the movement remains nonviolent.

The ACLU of Utah is thrilled about the commonsense cooperative approach the City and the Police Department have taken with respect to Occupy SLC to date, and we are hopeful this approach will continue over the duration of the occupancy.  However, should the dynamic change, the ACLU of Utah will be ready.  As a precaution, we have coordinated with the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Layers (UACDL) to develop a list of its members who have volunteered their services (or in some cases offered their services at a reduced fee) to those arrested or charged with crimes as a result of their participation in the occupancy.  The ACLU of Utah is very grateful to those members of the UACDL for their generous offer and their preparedness, and also appreciative of the UACDL's efforts to develop such a great list of attorneys.

Finally, we are also very excited to announce the first-ever ACLU of Utah Free Speech Hotline.  This hotline will accept calls 24 hours a day, over the duration  of the occupancy, so any potential First Amendment violations that may arise can be documented.  Opening this line will help the ACLU of Utah to monitor the situation and evaluate how we can best be of assistance.  Accordingly, if you experience or observe a violation of First Amendment rights, please report the incident to (801) 893-2198 or With any luck there will be no Constitutional violations to report.

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