April 17th, 2012 | City

Three-judge panel upholds eviction of Occupiers

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Photo by Cynthia Hua.

After weeks of limbo, a decision by the Second Circuit Federal Appeals Court may finally end Occupy New Haven’s stay on the New Haven Green.

In a Tuesday morning court hearing, a panel of three judges upheld federal judge Mark Kravtiz’s decision allowing the city to remove protesters from the Green. Unless a state housing court appeal is successful, the city can continue evicting members of Occupy New Haven whenever it wishes. Pending a last-minute stay, the Occupiers have agreed to take down most of their tents by 8 a.m. Wednesday, the New Haven Independent reported.

“Once again, the court’s action today was decisive. The plaintiffs have no meaningful chance of success,” City Hall spokeswoman Elizabeth Benton said in a statement. “The City of New Haven has respected the rule of law and we expect that members of Occupy New Haven will do the same.”

After questioning Occupy attorney Norm Pattis, the judges ruled that the city had constitutionally valid restrictions on First Amendment expression on the Green. They denied his request for an additional stay — which would be the encampment’s fourth — and said New Haven officials could act as they please.

The OPattis first came to Occupy New Haven’s rescue in mid-March, when officials were set to evict protesters after talks between the two groups had failed to reach a consensus. Just as city officials prepared to remove campers, Pattis won an injunction from district judge Janet Hall that allowed Occupiers to stay put until Kravitz could hold a hearing.

Before his hearing on March 28, Kravitz extended Occupy’s removal deadline to April 9 in order to give himself time to consider the case and issue a written decision. Once he decided in the city’s favor, he asked New Haven officials to wait until noon on April 10 to remove protesters.

But just before noon on April 10, Pattis won a third, week-long stay from the appeals court to allow a hearing on Kravitz’ ruling. City officials took down 20 percent of the encampment before receiving word that they were to let protesters remain on the Green.

Occupy New Haven is the longest surviving Occupy encampment in the Northeast. Occupiers celebrated its six-month anniversary on Sunday.