Town officials say taxpayers will pay $10,000 in overtime for police to staff an ‘’ event that could draw anywhere from 50 to 5,000 people, according to its organizer.
Margaret Rague, 61, said that’s a small sum for a citizen’s right to exercise free speech.
“$10,000 is a scant price to pay for the defense of the First Amendment,” Rague told Darien Patch.
An attorney, naturopathic physician and 23-year town resident, Rague said Darienites shouldn’t “complain about spending 50 cents apiece per capita” for 'Occupy Darien.'
at , ‘Occupy Darien’ has been described by Rague as an open forum to discuss problems with the economy. Rague has said she’s expecting no overnight camping, such as has been seen at Manhattan’s original and related ‘Occupy’ protests.
The event has sparked wide debate in Darien, and beyond, about the justification, merits and aims of what are more broadly described as “Occupy Wall Street”-type gatherings. Divisiveness came to a head when Dec. 3 on misdemeanor charges following what police described as a drunken confrontation. Rague has called the charges bogus.
According to Capt. Frederick W. Komm, officials are planning for “the worst-case scenario.”
“In other words, if a lot of people show up,” Komm said.
It isn’t clear yet just how many officers will need to be pulled into an overtime shift to staff for ‘Occupy Darien,’ Komm said, “but it’s going to be in the thousands of dollars, at least $10,000, so the town has to bear that expense.”
Attendees are expected to take trains for the event, Komm said. It’s scheduled to be held during commuter work hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. According to Komm, the MTA police are planning to have extra people at the .
MTA police could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to Director Susan Swiatek, Rague has requested the ability to secure a permit for ‘Occupy Darien’ though such a permit isn’t required.
“She has a right to assemble,” Swiatek said. “Her request is reviewed as any other request for park use would be.”
According to Rague, town officials have assured her that the permit can be issued with or without insurance.
Rague said it isn’t clear how many people will show up.
“That is really anybody’s guess,” she said. “I don’t know what to expect. I had no idea how this event would blossom.”