The Occupy Youngstown demonstrators have been demonstrating in Youngstown for several months, primarily at the downtown Federal Plaza. Initially, the demonstrators had been using a tent for shelter and a “burn barrel” for warmth. The tent, burn barrel and some items of personal property were confiscated by the police this past November although city officials had previously allowed the use of the tent and burn barrel by agreement with the protesters. To justify the confiscation of the tent, burn barrel and property of the protesters the City relied on Youngstown Codified Ordinance 521.04(c) which prohibits the placement of goods, materials or equipment “so as to obstruct pedestrian traffic”. Occupy Youngstown and several named
persons filed suit, naming the City of Youngstown, the Mayor and Police Chief as defendants, and claiming that Youngstown Codified Ordinance 521.04(c) is unconstitutional as applied to Occupy Youngstown.

Legal Theory

Youngstown Codified Ordinance 521.04(c) is unconstitutional as applied to Occupy Youngstown. The City’s confiscation of the protestors’ tent, burn barrel and other property violated the protestors’ right to engage in constitutionally protected activities under the Ohio Constitution and the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

Status Update

The complaint was filed in November 2011 in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas. Occupy Youngstown’s original volunteer attorney has withdrawn. Staughton and Alice Lynd have stepped in as ACLU volunteer attorneys to provide representation for Occupy Youngstown and the named plaintiffs. On May 31, 2012 the City filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Occupy Youngstown responded on June 13, 2012 with a Memorandum in Opposition. On July 30, 2012 the Magistrate ruled in favor of the City. Occupy Youngstown made a Request for Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on August 2, 2012. On August 21, 2012 the Magistrate again ruled against Occupy Youngstown when presenting the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, stating that Occupy Youngstown should have known it was required to apply for a permit of assemblage. On September 14, 2012 Judge Scott Krichbaum adopted the Magistrate’s August 21, 2012 decision and granted summary judgment to the city. The judge found that the Youngstown ordinance which prohibited the obstruction of pedestrian traffic was a reasonable time, place and manner restriction.

Date filed

November 16, 2012