New Orleans Front page headlines in the Times-Picayune had trumpeted the curious court battle around the removal of Occupy NOLA from Duncan Plaza across from City Hall to parts unknown. Mayor Mitch Landrieu had summarily pulled up the encampment only to have his hands slapped by a federal court judge ruling it was illegal and giving Occupy NOLA a surprising legal reprieve and allowing them to relocate for an additional seven (7) days while he considered whether they could come or go.
We went by the General Assembly to hear the news Tuesday night. The 40 or so folks left were sitting or lying on a small mound of grass in the Plaza listening to the legal team report on the judge’s decision, which, predictably, was grim and go. In a short order Judge Lance Africk simply wrote with no elaboration that “…the Court finds that plaintiffs have not carried their burden of establishing a substantial likelihood of success on the merits….” Mark Gonzales, one of the volunteer lawyers, told them plainly that more detail from the Judge was not going to provide better news.
There was concern about goods and property lost by the police’s illegal eviction and whether there would be any compensation.
There were offers of new locations. Empty lots in the lower 9th ward, still devastated and 80% vacant since Katrina, was one suggestion. Another speaker suggested an Episcopal Church that seemed to be closing on Canal Street. People drifted around the meeting. Others listened carefully. There was calm. Two people had decided to be arrested at 10 PM when the police were scheduled. Some would watch from across the street and down the block as witnesses.
This was dénouement. Ground conceded. Point long made. Future uncertain.