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Protesters bring fight to federal court

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Albany/HV: Protesters bring fight to federal court
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Protesters say they had every right to occupy Academy Park and are hoping the federal government agrees. That's just a piece of what they have planned for Occupy Albany going forward. They outlined the rest of their plan at a news conference Wednesday and our Megan Cruz was there.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Whether you're Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings or not, protesters say there's no escaping Occupy Albany.

"For every eviction, another occupation!" chanted Occupiers on Wednesday. They held a news conference at City Hall, outlining what's next for them in the City of Albany.

"We won't be quieted by a show of force, we won't be quieted by being hit with pepper spray, but we will keep our voices out there, we'll continue to stay public and we'll continue to bring these problems to the forefront," said Albany Councilmember Dominick Calsolaro.

And they'll continue exercising their first amendment rights, which they say allows them to camp in Academy Park. They've now brought this very issue from the state to the federal level.

"The redress we're looking for is a determination that the city is not entitled to an injunction in this regard and that the First Amendment in fact does protect the actions of Occupy Albany," said Occupy Attorney Mark Mishler.

Attorney Stephen Rehfuss says the city disagrees and plans to oppose the change of courts. He says their camping at the park is not an exercise of free speech.

"This is a violation of a permit, it's a violation of a city ordinance," said Rehfuss.

"That has nothing to do with what happened at 5:30 p.m.," said Mishler. "It's a completely separate incident. The park had already been cleared."

Mishler said in addition to the ongoing court proceeding, protesters are calling for an independent investigation into the final hours of last Thursday night. Police say people were pepper sprayed and four arrested after the crowd became aggressive, while occupiers maintain they'd been peaceful.

They say the peaceful protests will continue.

"January 7th, we're going back to the park! With the unions, with the faith community, with anti-war activists and with all the 99 percent in this city," said Occupier Joe Lombardo. "We're going to have a mass rally there and assert our first amendment right to freedom of speech and to make our message known."

"They have the right to protest and speak, but we're not going to allow people to camp," said Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings.

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