Updated 11/07/2011 06:46 PM
Albany proposes limits on Occupy demonstrators
This weekend, Albany officials gave an indication they may be seeking to crackdown on the Occupy Albany movement. It came in the form of what's being called a "memorandum of understanding" between demonstrators and the city. But as our Solomon Syed reports, much about the proposed agreement remains unclear.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- It's the first sign city officials are getting frustrated with the Occupy Albany movement. Over the weekend, they delivered a memo with at least a half-dozen proposed restrictions they want the so-called occupiers in Academy Park to agree to.
"What's the word I'm looking for. Conform to? We're not willing to meet every demand," said one demonstrator named Chris.
The city calls it a "memorandum of understanding." Some of the listed restrictions are as follows: The number of heaters that can be placed in the park is capped at two, no more cooking or open flames, only one electric generator is permitted and only 30 tents can be set up at a time. However, demonstrators have already pitched more than 50.
"The city is making their wishes known, but the demonstrators are saying where they stand too, maintaining the idea that this is a public park and they have access to it and should have access to it," said demonstrator Trudy Quaif.
Attorney Stephen Rehfuss, who represents the city on civil rights issues, tells YNN, "While we recognize their first amendment free speech rights, we also want to place some reasonable restrictions on the encampment so it doesn't interfere with others' use and enjoyment of the park."
YNN legal expert, Paul DerOhanessian, said, "A huge area of ambiguity in this agreement is 'Who is Occupy Albany' and does it apply to someone who just happens to walk on the scene and who doesn't consider themselves part of Occupy Albany?"
According to the memo, the occupiers can take up space at Academy Park for seven days at a time so long as they comply with the agreement. But if they don't, it's not clear what the city will do.
"I'm sure they're trying to find an out for the city, but at this point I'm not sure they're negotiating in bad faith," said Quaif.
The memo seems to be the outgrowth of several meetings city officials have had with occupy representatives over the last few weeks. They are tentatively scheduled to meet again Wednesday at 4 p.m.