“It was an intolerable situation,” Mayor Paul Soglin said Monday evening of the Occupy Madison homeless encampment on East Washington Avenue, after a Dane County judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the city from closing it down.It's so annoying to try to follow the news from this once-halfway-decent newspaper. I almost passed up this article because I wanted to know what happened last night. But here's the news from Monday night, posted mid-afternoon on Monday.
“The kind of health issues and crime problems we had on this site are not covered by the First Amendment, I think that’s very clear,” Soglin said.
He said that the city would wait until noon Tuesday to evacuate the site, to give people a chance to pack their things and leave.
Police calls to the Occupy site at a city-owned former car dealership in the 800 block of East Washington Avenue included some serious incidents, Soglin stressed. “We are treating the site as a hazardous waste site -- no employee going in is going to touch anything. We’ve had numerous reports of needles.”Why was this allowed to go on so long?
About an hour earlier...Earlier than what? "Monday evening"?
... Dane County Circuit Court Judge Amy Smith told pro-bono lawyers who sought a temporary restraining order in the name of three homeless people that they had not provided convincing evidence that clearing the site would trample the occupants’ First Amendment rights of assembly and free speech. In fact, there was evidence that occupants had participated in protests at other locations in the city while living at Occupy Madison, Smith pointed out.Oh, good lord, why was this a difficult issue? The protesters have left the city with a hazardous waste site to clean up and they made us waste our scarce money defending ridiculous lawsuits. You know the old lefty slogan "Property is theft." These lefties have me thinking: Protest is theft.
At about the time that Soglin spoke with reporters at a community budget session at Wright Middle School on the south side about a dozen protesters gathered in the hallway outside Soglin’s office in the City-County Building downtown were ordered to leave by police officers. All but one man -- Allen Barkoff, 69 -- obeyed; he was arrested and charged with trespassing.Barkoff — we were talking about him yesterday.
What was the point of all the patience and tolerance? At some point, it would need to end and it would, predictably, end badly. Now, they've got until noon today, and then the city moves in. Brilliantly, the day is May 1st, which has long been planned as a big protest day. I can see in the social media that there's an effort to draw a crowd to the Occupy site at noon (and then to march to the City County Building for a rally). Good luck to Mayor Soglin — who's now the protesters' enemy. (We saw a "Recall Soglin" sign at the Occupy site yesterday. Another sign said: "We were evicted from our homes, Mayor Soglin.)
ADDED: Here's what we saw: