"I'm proud of it," says Howell, who was reciting aloud the Declaration of Independence when the troopers slapped on the cuffs. "It really clearly indicates the degree to which corporate power and the business sector of society has become out of balance. They feel like they can get away with trampling on the First Amendment."
As for the state's stated reason for evicting the protesters—concerns over safety and sanitation—Howell says, "Totally bogus, cooked up after the fact, totally in direct response to the occupiers exercise of their First Amendment rights. These were new regulations put in place and enforced in less than 24 hours. No, I don't buy any of that stuff."
He says some interlopers were causing trouble at the Plaza during the three-week occupation, but "the occupiers repeatedly disavowed any connection with them."
"It's completely illegal," he says of the new state policy and curfew. "You should not have to pay to exercise your First Amendment rights. The way I read it, a family of four on the way to TPAC could be arrested for walking across the Plaza. There's no wiggle room."
To hold a demonstration or perhaps even a press conference on the Plaza in the future, Howell says, "We'll have to get a permit and pay $65 for that and provide them with a certificate of insurance and some kind of damage deposit at well. It's outrageous."