Since the October 15 global day of action which launched many Occupy efforts, we have rallied and occupied People’s Park, a space formerly known as Mellon Green. Pittsburgh’s is one of the Occupy encampment to reclaim land from a bank.
BNY Mellon is now calling for Occupy Pittsburgh’s eviction, allegedly, for our own “safety.” This is a blatant attempt by BNY Mellon to silence us, and to prevent us from resisting the corruption by the 1% of our political and economic systems. In response, we have announced our own eviction of BNY Mellon from our city. BNY Mellon’s fraudulent and exploitative practices have denied its customers and its workers billions of dollars in wages and benefits. We are fighting to redefine the ethics of our economy and to resist corporate control of our cities, our spaces, our politics and our lives.
On January 10, we ask supporters to:
- Temporarily change their addresses on Facebook and other web sites to #1 People’s Park, Pittsburgh PA 15219;
- Send mail to BNY Mellon’s Pittsburgh office (500 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15258) with the return address of #1 People’s Park, Pittsburgh PA 15219;
- Hold non-violent demonstrations against BNY Mellon around the world (the bank’s headquarters is One Wall Street, New York City; and offices are in Boston, London, Moscow, Sydney, Cairo and cities in every hemisphere).
To BNY Mellon, we have one unified response: You can’t evict an idea whose time has come.
A Statement From Occupy Pittsburgh’s Legal Working Group
On Friday, December 9, 2011 at approximately 6:30 pm, Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon) posted several notices at the entrances to the People’s Park (BNY Mellon Green) requiring the removal of “all tents and other structures as well as camping equipment and other stored personal items” from BNY Mellon Green by noon on Sunday, December 11, 2011. The notice stated that the presence of these items or overnight camping past this deadline would be considered an unlawful trespass.
On Monday, December 12, 2011, BNY Mellon and their lawyers at Reed Smith filed a complaint for injunctive relief against Occupy Pittsburgh, Jane Does (1-50), and John Does (1-50) for trespass. The occupation refused service of the complaint by two Allegheny County deputy sheriffs later that afternoon. The complaint was not left at the camp by the sheriffs.
On Tuesday, December 13, 2011, BNY Mellon and their lawyers at Reed Smith filed a motion for alternate service. Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Ward ruled that BNY Mellon could properly serve Occupy Pittsburgh by posting copies of the complaint at four locations in the park and by publishing notice of the lawsuit in the Pittsburgh Legal Journal and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The notice was posted at the camp at approximately 4:00 pm later that day.
A status conference is scheduled for Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 9:30 am with Judge Ward during which time a hearing will be scheduled. The Occupy Pittsburgh Legal Working Group will continue to provide updates as to future court proceedings and encourages all occupiers and supporters to attend all legal proceedings.
The Occupy Pittsburgh Legal Working Group, in accordance with the proposal that was unanimously passed at the December 11 General Assembly, is going to work to defend our legal right to stay in People’s Park for as long as possible while proceeding in a way that also puts BNY Mellon on trial. Out of respect for the diversity of opinions within the Occupy Pittsburgh community, the Occupy Pittsburgh Legal Working Group will explore multiple legal strategies to accomplish these goals and operate according to the wishes of the General Assembly to the maximum extent possible while maintaining the autonomy to make emergency decisions to keep us in People’s Park.
The Occupy Pittsburgh Legal Working Group feels as though we are in an excellent position to defend our legal right to remain in People’s Park. By initiating legal proceedings against Occupy Pittsburgh, a peaceful nonviolent protest movement that has occupied People’s Park for two months without incident or complaint, in an attempt to squelch protestor’s free speech rights, BNY Mellon continues to prove what they are and why People’s Park was chosen as the site of the Occupy Pittsburgh in the first place.
BNY has been accused of numerous criminal and fraudulent actions and as such they do not have the moral or ethical right to seek equitable relief from the court system. BNY Mellon’s hands are far from clean; recent lawsuits brought against them include a lawsuit for negligent behavior regarding the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme as well as several pending suits from the Attorneys General of Florida, New York, and Virginia and the Retirement System of the City of Detroit regarding fraudulent behavior surrounding BNY Mellon’s mishandling of billions of dollars of public pension funds.
Furthermore, while BNY Mellon is attempting to illegally restrict the public’s right to access a public park for the winter, Occupy Pittsburgh continues to improve and increase the use of People’s Park by the general public. In addition to being built with public tax money through tax increment financing (TIF), under Pittsburgh’s Urban Open Space ordinance, People’s Park is required to be open to the public without restriction. Occupy Pittsburgh’s presence at People’s Park has greatly increased the public’s use of this land by providing a public forum for citizens’ to discuss ideas and participate in political demonstrations.
Occupy Pittsburgh Legal Working Group has asked Members of Occupy Pittsburgh to avoid discussing legal strategy or participating in speculation online or in the media. Representatives from the Occupy Pittsburgh Legal Working Group will be holding semi-regular Q&A sessions at People’s Park as developments occur. The next scheduled Q&A session is tentatively set for Thursday, December 22nd at noon after the status conference.
#1 Mellon Green
Grant St. & Sixth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219