Representative Jerry Nadler (D) NY has written Attorney General Eric Holder asking for a federal investigation into police conduct during activities at Zuccotti Park. I’m including one paragraph here because I find it annoying:
Finally, I am concerned by reports that police might be monitoring houses of worship where OWS protestors have obtained shelter and sanctuary. Police surveillance of activities protected by the First Amendment must conform to the guarantees of the Constitution. Care must be exercised in the conduct of those investigations so as to protect constitutional rights. Matters investigated must be confined to those supported by a legitimate law enforcement purpose. At the very least, such investigations must not be based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment. These principles have been recognized both by the FBI’s guidelines, and NYPD guidelines arising from the consent decree in Handschu v. Special Services Division, 475 F.Supp.2d 331 (SDNY 2007).
Speech and public assembly to redress grievances are fundamental rights and part of our American fabric. In so far as the OWS are exercising those rights I support them fully even though I find the substance meritless and embarrassingly naive on their behalf. However, occupying public property is not lawful and on this I do not support them one iota. Speech and assembly may be legally regulated as to time place and manner. As such, observing those who are engaging in ongoing unlawful activity is a legitimate law enforcement purpose. Police are not required to stop watching law breakers because they went into a church. Further, OWS protesters are protected by the fourth amendment restrictions on searches. Nadler’s legal point is dulled round but his political point is sharp. Nadler is embracing the OWS movement. Will it pay off or bite him in the tail? Who knows.