Posted by troublemaker on November 7, 2011
I owned and operated a retail store for enough years that I am very failure with safety and code enforcement. Once a year, our retail store was inspected by the Fire Department. If they spotted something unsafe, they would issue a statement that we had 30 days to remove the safety violation. The best example is the misuse of extension cords. We would roll them up, put them away, and thank the Fire Department for explaining the rules to us. At no time did the Fire Department, Police, or other officials SEIZE an extension cord or other items. Why? Because their goal was not to destroy business nor to violate protections found in the Constitution of the United States of America and its associated Amendments. In New York City, the government seems to have taken a very different stand on Occupy Wall street.
Exigent circumstances do allow for seizure of property without warrant. Such might be the case when an automobile is seized by police after an OMVI arrest. However, what exigent circumstances exist when expensive and necessary generators are used without fences which mandate seizure to protect the public welfare? Why not just demand a fence be erected? Why not just demand guards be posted at the generators?
When police can seize property without warrant, one has to wonder what this country has become.
Despite Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable seizure and Fourteenth Amendment protection which guarantees due process, New York police seized generators from the Occupy Wall street encampment without warrant to do so. Although they claim the generators consisted of a safety threat, they could have ordered them removed rather than seizing them and further violating constitutional rights.
As weather turned cold, generators in New York’s Zuccotti Park encampment of Occupy Wallstreet have been seized by the police and firefighters departments. New York claims the generators are a safety hazard. Washington DC simply asked protesters to put a fence up around their generators:
“Park Police have advised us to erect some kind of fence around it, which we’re taking as tacit permission to keep it,” – Justin Smith (1)
Although police in New York claim the seizure was for safety reasons, Marie Fehlig explains that warmth is a medical necessity while treating cases of hypothermia. Maria Fehlig and others from the National Nurses United union staff the medic / first aid tent which was previously heated by those electric generators. Fehlig seems to believe the generators were removed as a tactic to force Occupy protesters to withstand the bitter temperatures.
“The temperatures drop and that’s when they decide to take the generators,” – Marie Fehlig (2)
After the generators were taken, Maria Fehlig commented on the ongoing threat of hypothermia:
“We saw 25 cases of hypothermia last night. You can’t warm someone up in the elements.”- Marie Fehlig (2)
Of course safety is important. According to Iana Dikidjieva of Occupy Wall street, each group has at least one fire extinguisher. It seems that rather than risk further cases of cold weather injuries, if safety had been their real concern the city of New York could have explained that a fence need to be erected around the generators.
If the city of New York has an honest interest in safety, they will meet with Occupy Wall street and find a solution.
1 – Washington Post