Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer) today introduced a resolution in support of Occupy Wall Street’s freedom to peacefully assemble and speak. The resolution comes in the wake of evacuations of Occupy protest sites in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The Occupy Movement began on September 17, 2011 and is representative of the growing discontent with the influence of money in politics and the economic disparity that is widening the income gap between the wealthiest 1 percent and the other 99 percent of the population.
“The response by police to largely peaceful assemblies in New York City, Oakland, the University of California-Davis, Philadelphia, Trenton, and many other communities are gross suppressions of citizens’ constitutional freedoms,” said Turner, lamenting the excessive use of force by police and administrators in cities and university campuses. “Peacefully expressing the grievances held by many citizens toward the concentration of wealth and power in the United States is not a crime.”
Senator Turner also expressed concern for our governments’ lack of acknowledgement and response to the movement. “Although government may not agree with the message of the movement, it is nonetheless obligated to respect and protect the constitutional freedoms of the protestors. I am disappointed in our governments’ unwillingness to have an open dialogue with its citizens and the blind eye turned toward the suppression of citizens’ freedoms.”
Senator Turner’s resolution recognizes that the policies that have benefitted the wealthy have lead to social discord and class resentment, in addition to a shrinking of the middle class. New Jersey’s State Legislature would become the first to acknowledge and lend its support to Occupy Wall Street with the passage of Senator Turner’s resolution.