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That decision, considered one of the court’s most controversial, overturned laws that restricted limits on corporate financing of political campaigns. It allowed corporate contributions to be considered the same as those from individuals, prompting one man in Friday’s march to carry a sign reading, “Not a Person.”
Crowds gathered at Zuccotti Park, formerly the home base of the Occupy movement, before they marched up Broadway to Foley Square chanting, “Money is not free speech.”
As in other cities, the crowd had planned to mass in front of a federal courthouse, this one at Pearl St. However, unlike in the other cities, New York’s Occupiers were denied a permit to gather there. A last-minute lawsuit demanding a permit was also struck down, so participants gathered in Foley Square across from the federal and state court buildings.
Three Brooklyn city councilmembers joined other speakers in denouncing the Supreme Court ruling. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Christopher Hedges, speaking against the rise of corporate power in government, looked across the shivering crowd in the bitter cold and declared, referring to the Occupy movement’s influence on politics, “If they think they got whacked this fall, wait till this spring.”
Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig said politicians “should act and vote as citizens, thinking about the common good.”
Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping sang their new song, “Declaration of the Occupation.”
When hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons took the stage, there were some boos and chants of “Sweatshop labor!” Simmons, a frequent visitor to the Occupy encampment, pressed on with a brief speech in support of the movement.
Earlier Friday, Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez appeared in a Manhattan court along with dozens of Occupy participants who were arrested on the night of the eviction from Zuccotti Park last November.
“I was falsely accused,” Rodriguez said after his appearance before a judge. Rodriguez was charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration. Rodriguez’s lawyer filed a motion to dismiss, claiming police didn’t explain why they closed the street. Rodriguez was not offered an A.C.D. (Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal) and told the judge he plans to take his case to trial.
“I’m surprised at how the N.Y.P.D. mishandled the situation,” Rodriguez said. “I believe in the Occupy movement. I support this movement. I went to Zuccotti only with the intention to be an observer.
“I think they violated the First Amendment,” he said of the police. “I hope to see justice and we’ll take this case all the way.”
In the early days of the Occupy phenomenon, 800 people were arrested in marches near Union Square and across the Brooklyn Bridge. Lawyers for the arrestees hoped to make a point by bringing all the cases to trial. Over several days of trials in the past few months, however, many of those arrested have opted for A.C.D’s.
In other Occupy news, lawyers on Friday dropped a lawsuit against the city that challenged the movement’s eviction from Zuccotti Park last November. The lawsuit was reportedly withdrawn because the barricades surrounding Zuccotti since the eviction were recently removed.
However, attorney Alan Levine cautioned the city, telling DNAinfo, “If Occupy Wall Street attempts to put up tents again and they’re denied the right to put them up, we will meet to consider whether or not another lawsuit ought to be brought.”