TRENTON – The state has proposed new rules that could affect protesters who set up at the World War II memorial across the street from the Statehouse.
For some time now, protesters from the “Occupy’’ movement have been staging protests at the memorial, in concert with the “Occupy Wall Street’’ protesters and similar movements around the nation.
The state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has proposed a rule that would ban “camping,” among other things, at the War Memorial, which has beomce home to the Occupy New Jersey protesters.
“The Memorial is designed and intended for temporary visits. It is not a campground, nor is it equipped for long-term inhabitation. The Memorial has no permanent shelter and offers no protection from the elements. It has no public restroom or washroom facilities,” according to the rule change proposal.
The proposed rules define “camping” as “the use of the Memorial grounds for living accommodation purposes including, but not limited to, sleeping activities, storing personal belongings, or making any fire; or using any tents, shelters, other structure, or vehicle for sleeping or carrying on cooking activities.”
The rules also would place limits on the types, and sizes of, signs that could be placed there, as well as provide additional authority to deny a permit.
There is a 60-day comment period on these proposals.
For the past couple of months, Occupy New Jersey, formerly known as Occupy Trenton, has been camped out on West State Street as part of a national movement calling attention to income inequality and strong governmental support for big banks at the expense of jobless Americans, among other things.
Chief Warrant Officer Patrick Dougherty, spokesman for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, said there had been several cases of individuals abandoning personal items, such as laptop computers and tents, and there were even incidents of public urination.
The department, he said, believed more rules were needed to make clear what is and whatn isn’t allowed at the memorial, which is primarily a public attraction.
Earlier this month, Sen. Shirley K. Turner (D-15), Trenton, introduced a resolution in support of Occupy Wall Street’s freedom to peacefully assemble. That resolution was introduced in the wake of evacuations of Occupy protest sites in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.