Prof. Bennett Gershman appeared on the Bloomberg Law Podcast to discuss legal issues in the Occupy Wall Street movement

Prof. Bennett Gershman appeared on the Bloomberg Law Podcast with Spencer Mazyck today to discuss the legal rights of the Occupy Wall Street protestors.

He cautioned, “The point about speech is you can’t say anything you want–any place, any time, under any circumstances. There are limits. Some of the limits are it has to be orderly, it has to be safe, it has to be done in a way that does not unduly interfere, for example, with traffic.”

Asked if the First Amendment protects the tent city that’s been set up in Zuccoti Park, Gershman replied, “I would say it might… Setting up a tent city to dramatize this issue is conduct. But sometimes conduct can be speech and can be given the protection of the First Amendment. The speech of the tent city is to symbolize the disparity between the rich and the poor. The poor people live in tents or in cardboard shelters. The rich live in mansions on Park Avenue. It’s to dramatize that gap.”

Mazyck asked about the mass arrest on September 1 of about 700 protestors who were marching over the Brooklyn Bridge. Gershman explained that they were charged with disorderly conduct for interfering with traffic. That arrest led five protestors to file a civil rights complaint against the city.

Gershman said: “I think the allegation there is that the group notified the police that they wanted to march. Apparently the police did not say to them you can’t march. In fact, they claim… that the police led them onto the bridge and escorted them along the way. Now, if the police did that, if that could be proved, then this is sort of like an entrapment. The police set them up for the ultimate sweep and the ultimate arrests.”

Asked if the criminal cases against the protestors might actually go to trial, Gershman replied that the protestors might prefer this. “A trial might be a method of dramatizing the issue. The courtroom is always an arena that you can use for political purposes. My guess is the prosecutors don’t want to allow them to do that, and they might just say, ‘We’re going to dismiss it, forget it.'”

Watch it here.

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