Thank you, Marcy Burstiner, for covering my Free Speech lawsuit against
the City of Arcata for its (ironically named) Aggressive Panhandling
Ordinance. I don't see how Arcata can suggest that the simple act of
holding up a sign, which is the most passive form of panhandling, can
qualify as aggressive; and I object to restrictions on speech based on
content (as Ms. Burstiner pointed out, you can hold up a sign to
advertise or sell something but not one asking for a handout).
I think it's important for people to consider that if you believe in the
protection of free speech and in defending our Bill of Rights, then you
need to be willing to defend the rights of people you don't agree with,
or find annoying. Or, in the case of the ACLU defending the Nazis' right
to march in the predominantly Jewish town of Skokie, Illinois, even people
you find repulsive.
As Voltaire stated, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to
the death your right to say it."
Both my lawsuit and Janelle Egger's lawsuit against Humboldt County for
its ordinance restricting protests on Courthouse property are being
supported in part by the Humboldt Civil Liberties Defense Fund, of which
I am a member. We welcome your support and I encourage anyone wishing
to contribute to help fund these cases, and our overall efforts to
defend civil liberties in Humboldt County, to visit us online at HCLDF.org.
I sincerely hope that Mitch is right and I am wrong as to the ability of this ordinance to withstand a court challenge. I certainly agree that it should not hold up in court.
Since it seems unlikely that the current BoS is going to show the wisdom to rectify this situation on their own, a lawsuit which will come at taxpayers' expense may be the only remedy with which we're left.
The City of Arcata is currently running up a significant bill with their outside council, who charges them by the hour, learning that very lesson in regards to their new law which restricts what the "content" of a sign can say that one holds up in public.
Here's the Sups phone numbers in numerical order by district to contact them directly:
Jimmy R. Smith
I would certainly encourage everyone who can afford the inherit risk of doing so to contact all of the Supervisors and their own in particular, and implore them to find a more nuanced solution to whatever they perceive as the problem here and to restore our Constitutional right to assemble, day or night.
Saturday night was a good first step, and while anyone who knows me, including Rose-holier-than-thou-Welsh, knows that when I work on a campaign or for a cause, I carry my own weight and maybe a little extra, but it is going to take a lot more activism and political pressure on the Board of Supervisors by hundreds if not thousands of Humboldt residents in order to convince them to change this unnecessary and immoral (even if proven to be technically legal) ordinance.
As to camping overnight, do you really think that in 1776 when citizens would have had to travel for days or weeks by horse or buggy or on foot, to get to the seat of government that some of them would not have in fact "camped" when they got there?
The Times Standard editorial board, Dave Meserve in his My Word, Marcy Burstiner in her Media Maven article in the NCJ and others have all done a wonderful job breaking down the distinctions between those social ills which are being both attracted to, and magnified by, the Occupy Eureka protest. But our Supervisors' solution of "lock 'em all up" (or in this case, "outlaw all of them together"), as a way to address those social ills, when the true political protesters of Occupy Eureka have rarely if ever contributed to the unacceptable actions which the BoS has used to justify its new law, is mind boggling!
Mostly it just make (them) our government look lazy and frankly, not all that bright.
As to any congestion when entering on the 5th St side (we all know there is a 4th street entrance where you can avoid the protesters completely, right?), that congestion has been caused solely by the county when it chose to fence off 3/4 of the public space in front of the courthouse!
BTW, they still claim the fence in up only "to let the lawn grow back", never mind that they've had to mow the lawn four times since the fence was erected!
Case law may well support the right of County Governments to regulate "time manner and place" of protesters, but no reasonable person (Rose would of course be excused here) can read the First Amendment of our Constitution, which: "prohibits the making of any law... abridging the freedom of speech, ...interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.".
Wow, that's pretty damn clear isn't it?
Much more clear even then the obscurity of the second amendment (which as a gun owner I support) with its reference to the necessity of "...a well regulated militia...". That does not make it clear as to my absolute right to own any and all guns, as I am NOT a member of any militia, well regulated or otherwise.
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In Print This Week:
Jan 19, 2017
vol XXVIII issue 3
The North Coast Journal Weekly
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