UPDATE: 6:45 p.m.

PORTLAND — Members of the Occupy Maine movement met for nearly three hours today in Lincoln Park before deciding to sue the city of Portland for violating their Constitutional right to free speech.

The General Assembly’s decision, which came after the sun had set and temperatures had started to plummet, authorizes the movement’s attorney, John Branson, to file for a temporary restraining order that, if granted, would allow the group’s encampment to remain in Lincoln Park.

City Manager Mark Rees has given Occupy Maine until 12:30 p.m. Thursday to respond to the City Council’s denial of a permit to allow the protesters the right to continue camping out in the park.

Rees also told Branson that the city would give the group a 48-hour written notice for any order to remove their tents and other structures.

Branson said the suit, which will most likely be filed this week in either federal or state court, has two objectives. It would first seek a temporary injunction to prevent the city from evicting the protesters.
The suit would also seek to establish that the city violated the protesters’ civil rights when the council voted 8-1 last week to deny the group’s request for a permit to stay in the park – an area they sought to have designated as a 24-hour free speech zone.

“I say we sue them to protect our rights, and if that doesn’t work … civil disobedience,” said John Schreiber, one of the protesters. 

– Dennis Hoey, staff writer

4:43 p.m.: Occupy Maine meets today to decide next move

PORTLAND — Occupy Maine protestors are meeting this evening at Lincoln Park to decide their next move.

About 40 people have assembled in the chilly encampment to decide how to respond to Portland City Council’s denial of a permit last week, which would have allowed the protestors to legally remain in the park through the winter.

On Friday, City Manager Mark Rees set a 12:30 p.m. Thursday deadline for the group to make its next move. He gave the protestors three options: disband the encampment, obtain a restraining order through the courts or seek a new permit that satisfies city codes.

The encampment currently violates a city ordinance that bans staying in public parks between 10 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.

John Branson, the group’s attorney, said the protestors will likely decide what to do next at today’s meeting.

– Beth Quimby, staff writer