Occupy Augusta protester convicted in Blaine House trespassing

Posted March 23, 2012, at 11:20 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The first of nine people to go to trial on criminal trespass charges stemming from an Occupy-inspired protest at the Blaine House has been convicted.

Jurors on Friday returned a guilty verdict against 59-year-old Diane Messer, who said she was exercising her First Amendment rights when she and others refused to leave the Blaine House grounds.

The Kennebec Journal said Messer testified she wanted to negotiate a compromise after authorities demanded a daytime-only permit for Occupy Augusta protesters to remain in Capitol Park.

Prosecutors said the problem was the location, not the message, when demonstrators went to the Blaine House on Nov. 27. The Capitol Park encampment disbanded after a federal judge ruled on Dec. 7 that banning camping in the park didn’t stymie free speech.