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Judge throws out Occupy Chicago arrests

CHICAGO – A judge Thursday threw out the arrests of more than 90 Occupy Chicago protesters in Grant Park last fall and ruled the city's curfew for the area was unconstitutional.

Cook County Associate Judge Thomas Donnelly said in his ruling the city often chooses not to enforce the curfew for events it supports. The arrests last October came after hundreds of members of Occupy Chicago refused to take down tents and leave the park when it closed at 11 p.m.

Donnelly compared the protests to President Barack Obama's victory rally in the same park in 2008.

"The city arrested no one at the Obama 2008 presidential election victory rally, even though the Obama rally was equally in violation of the curfew," Donnelly wrote.

Roderick Drew, spokesman for Chicago's Law Department, said the city will file an appeal.

"The city is disappointed with the decision," Drew said.

Sarah Gelsomino, a People's Law Office attorney representing the protesters, said the activists were legally participating in free speech.

"Hopefully this sends a clear message to the city that they must better respect the First Amendment rights of protesters no matter what their message might be," Gelsomino said.

The protesters were an off-shoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement and were demonstrating against corporate greed.


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