On October 25, 2011, a group of citizens (Occupy Ft. Meyers) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida against the City of Fort Myers, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging that the defendant's municipal code unconstitutionally suppressed plaintiff's activities. ...
read more >
On October 25, 2011, a group of citizens (Occupy Ft. Meyers) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida against the City of Fort Myers, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging that the defendant's municipal code unconstitutionally suppressed plaintiff's activities. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for a preliminary injunction to restrain enforcing certain portions of the code and to declare that such portions violated the rights to free speech, assembly and association, under the First Amendment.
Defendant had employed a code requiring a special permit-signed by the chief or authorized member of the police department-for every parade, procession or public open-air meeting. Around October 11, 2011, the plaintiff began organizing the Occupy Fort Myers movement and held political activities (e.g., rally, building tents and information booths) at Centennial Park to promote awareness of the influence of private money in the nation's political process. The plaintiff attempted to acquire a "Special Events" permit but was denied presumably due to lack of the required liability insurance policy. On October 20, 2011, the police department of the defendant began issuing citations to plaintiff for remaining overnight in the park. Subsequently, plaintiff filed this suit.
The plaintiff argued that defendant's code: (1) provided targeted regulation of political speech with uncontrolled discretion in City officials to approve or deny permits; (2) included vague language as to cause citizens to censor speech and conduct; and (3) included language suppressing citizens' liberty interest in lounging on public benches and places. The defendant contended in part that portions of the code-some of which were to be repealed-were not enforced and thus request for the preliminary injunction was moot.
On November 15, 2012, the District Court (Judge Steele) issued an order for preliminary injunction to some of the plaintiff's claims. On November 17, 2011, the defendant denied plaintiff's request for a permit, and around 11:00 pm, the police department demanded that the plaintiff leave the park or face arrest.
The plaintiff and defendant negotiated a settlement agreement. On March 4, 2013, the District Court (Judge Steele) dismissed the case with prejudice.David Cho - 10/08/2014