Occupy New Haven won’t be pulling up stakes for at least two more weeks, following a U.S. District Judge’s decision this morning granting a two-week stay of plans by the city to clear the tent city and its 30 to 40 residents.
The ruling by Judge Janet C. Hall means the protesters, facing a noon deadline to pack up the tents, live to fight another day — and a fight is what they might have; legal papers filed by the city give the impression that government officials are ready to abandon their let’s-settle-this-amicably stance.
Over the last month, the city has had discussions with leaders of the protest in an effort to wind things down on the Green. They offered to let protesters return for short periods some time down the road. They provided information about homeless shelters for those whose outdoor living was not by choice. On Monday, in announcing the Wednesday deadline to move on, the city was still using its polite voice. “Both the City of New Haven and the Proprietors of the Green appreciate the dedication you have brought to the cause of economic justice, and we wish you well as you move forward elsewhere.”
But while the tents are still there, the legal gloves may be coming off. “From their response to the City’s Notice, it is not clear whether plaintiffs believe they can ever be asked to leave the New Haven Green,” the city wrote in testy legal papers filed this morning. “Plaintiffs seek nothing less than unlimited and unfettered use and access of lands open to all for their private purpose. No court has ever recognized such a right and there is no basis under the law for granting one now.”