JP Morgan Chase is getting sued again, but this time it isn’t for predatory lending or foreclosure practices. The bank is accused of conspiring with New York City and its Police Department to deny free speech by fencing off a plaza in the Financial District, Curbed reported.
In the lawsuit, a laundry list of plaintiffs claims blocking the area at One Chase Manhattan Plaza, on Cedar Street between Nassau and William streets, ”impinged on protesters’ first-amendment rights to expression.”
When JP Morgan closed the plaza in the fall of 2011, many theorized that the move was to keep Occupy Wall Street protesters at bay. Bank officials flatly denied the assertion and maintained the space had been closed for renovation.
Chase has filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing the plaza is privately owned and it is their “fundamental right, protected by the federal constitution, to exclude the public,” according to Curbed.
The plaza was built in the 1950s and predates the advent of Privately Owned Public Spaces zoning, which requires public access to a privately owned space. But the original zoning approval for the plaze does state that the tower must leave ”72.7 percent for a plaza, which will afford light and air and room for relaxation for the applicant’s employees and for others in the area.”
A ruling on Chase’s request for dismissal is expected in the coming weeks. [Curbed] –Christopher Cameron