You are here
Home > Posts tagged "Free Speech"

DIA issues protest permit under court order, but limits crowd size to, wait for it, FOUR! Then court stays injunction.

DENVER, COLORADO- Abiding by the injunction in McDonnell v Denver, DIA administrators granted us a free speech permit within 24-hours on Thursday, but they insisted that the terminal location desired could only accommodate FOUR PEOPLE. You heard right. Four. There's irony here too because there were FIVE people named on the permit application! Thus the permit was actually 20% denied, and in reality 92% denied given that we sought a permit for 50 people, a number easily lower than the DIA International Arrivals area can handle.   MEANWHILE, in the 10th Circuit Court, the city of Denver appealed the DIA injunction and asked for a stay. This is not usually granted in First Amendment cases, but on Thursday it was. The 10th Circuit stayed the injunction and wants to hear arguments on March 17. So at DIA for now we're back to the impermissive permit process that precludes accomodating public expression at the Denver airport. And the signing of President Trump's new improved Muslim Ban looms... THAT'S the more significant development in the case for free speech at DIA. But let's get back to our story, to how poorly DIA administrators complied during the small window when our court injunction was in force and DIA was enjoined to be accomodating to the public's right to expression. Getting the permit process started was not easy. There are instructions on the DIA website but no application. A call to DIA was routed to a person who insisted we read instructions online. We said we did. She replied that if we had, we'd know what to do. We reiterated that there was no application there, and that we needed an application. She took our names and vowed to have someone call us back. This was at 11:30am. After an hour we called back, explaining that time was of the essence, as was for them as well in responding to our request. We were given the same instruction, to consult the rules online. We explained that we'd READ the rules, STUDIED THEM in fact, and had them reviewed by a FEDERAL COURT. We exlained there was now a federal injunction to which DIA was bound and we required our permit request to be considered promptly, the first step of which, we presumed to be, the submission of an application! Our call was forwarded to a person who eventually emailed an application blank at approximately 4pm. We filed the application immediately and here's the correspondence that resulted: Mr. Dalton Please find attached a request for permit to protest at DIA at outside of international arrivals. We are requesting this in an expedited fashion  pursuant to judge Martinez's decision of a preliminary injunction re: Civil Action No 17-cv-0332-W JM-MJW. A new executive order is anticipated to be announced regarding the "Muslim ban" in the next day or two and we are requesting that the permit be processed within 24 hours to allow for a timely protest. We do not intend to obstruct airport operations. I will send you a copy

Colo. US District Court judge enjoins DIA to limit restriction of free speech (grants our preliminary injunction!)

DENVER, COLORADO- If your civil liberties have ever been violated by a cop, over your objections, only to have the officer say "See you in court", this victory is for YOU! On January 29 we were threatened with arrest for protesting the "Muslim Ban" at Denver International Airport. We argued that our conduct was protected speech and that they were violating our rights. They dismissed our complaints with, in essense: "That's for a court to decide." And today IT HAS! On Feb 15 we summoned the cops to federal court and this morning, Feb 22, US District Court Judge William Martinez granted our preliminary injunction, severely triming DIA's protest permit process. In a nutshell: no restrictions on signs, size of assemblies or their location within the main terminal (so long as the airport's function is not impeded). Permits are still required but with 24 hours advance notice, not seven days. Below is Judge Martinez' 46-page court order in full: Document 29 Filed 02/22/17 USDC Colorado IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO Judge William J. Martínez Civil Action No. 17-cv-0332-WJM-MJW NAZLI MCDONNELL, and ERIC VERLO, Plaintiffs, v. CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER,? DENVER POLICE COMMANDER ANTONIO LOPEZ, in his individual and official capacity, and? DENVER POLICE SERGEANT VIRGINIA QUIÑONES, in her individual and official capacity, Defendants. ________________________________________________________ ORDER GRANTING PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION IN PART ________________________________________________________ Plaintiffs Nazli McDonnell (“McDonnell”) and Eric Verlo (“Verlo”) (together, “Plaintiffs”) sue the City and County of Denver (“Denver”), Denver Police Commander Antonio Lopez (“Lopez”) and Denver Police Sergeant Virginia Quiñones (“Quiñones”) (collectively, “Defendants”) for allegedly violating Plaintiffs’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights when they prevented Plaintiffs from protesting without a permit in the Jeppesen Terminal at Denver International Airport (“Airport” or “Denver Airport”). (ECF No. 1.) Currently before the Court is Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction, which seeks to enjoin Denver from enforcing some of its policies regarding demonstrations and protests at the Airport. (ECF No. 2.) This motion has been fully briefed (see ECF Nos. 2, 20, 21, 23) and the Court held an evidentiary hearing on February 15, 2017 (“Preliminary Injunction Hearing”). For the reasons explained below, Plaintiffs’ Motion is granted to the following limited extent: • Defendants must issue an expressive activity permit on twenty-four hours’ notice in circumstances where an applicant, in good faith, seeks a permit for the purpose of communicating topical ideas reasonably relevant to the purposes and mission of the Airport, the immediate importance of which could not have been foreseen seven days or more in advance of the commencement of the activity for which the permit is sought, or when circumstances beyond the control of the permit applicant prevented timely filing of the application; ? • Defendants must make all reasonable efforts to accommodate the applicant’s preferred demonstration location, whether inside or outside of the Jeppesen Terminal, so long as the location is a place where the unticketed public is normally allowed to be; ? • Defendants may not enforce Denver Airport Regulation 50.09’s prohibition against “picketing” (as that term is

How I nearly got arrested for holding a sign at Denver International Airport

DIA, COLORADO- Last weekend I joined thousands across the country protesting Trump's executive order restricting entry visas from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Spontaneous demonstrations had erupted at international airports nationwide on Saturday January 27. Denver's airport was no exception but the lively gathering of sign holders was ultimately persuaded by police to leave the premises. Supposedly a permit was required to hold signs. Demonstrators the next day were quickly ushered outside, to rally instead between the terminal and adjacent lightrail station, where only a tiny fraction of travelers would see them. This much we knew as we monitored events online while we reconnoitered DIA from the short-term parking garage. We made our way swiftly to the International Arrivals doors at the north end of the main terminal WITH OUR SIGNS. International Arrivals The point was to reach immigrants, right? We walked to our intended protest spot unhindered and inconspicuous, because of course signs are not an unusual sight at an airport. Travelers who've been a long time away, in particular soldiers returning from deployment, are frequently greeted by family members holding signs. Often limo drivers have to page their corporate clients. We carried our placards with their message facing inward hoping they'd be mistaken for everyday signs. When we raised them above our heads we attracted immediate attention. They read "#NO MUSLIM BAN #NO REGISTRY, END WHITE PATRIARCHY" and "FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE MUSLIMS AND WE SAID: NOT TODAY MOTHERFUCKER." Immediately a man with a "DIA Operations" cap informed us that we weren't allowed to hold signs. We assured him the opposite was true. He called for backup. We weren't alone in front of International Arrivals. In addition to the families awaiting loved ones, there were a couple dozen law firm employees holding signs which read "Pro Bono Immigration Legal Services". We surmised that their presence might have already been negotiated with DIA. Soon a couple of those lawyers approached us to announce loudly that the public protest was outside the building and that we could continue there unmolested. We thanked them for their assistance but urged that they also clarify publicly that we were within our rights to stay inside as well. I was upset that their gravitas, as lawyers, was seen as supportive of the authorities telling us to stop. Police officers arrived in short order, a first one filming us with a digital point-and-shoot, then a second filming with a cell phone, both surely streaming to a command center. After six officers assembled, a sergeant approached us flanked by two DIA employees. She gave us our formal warnings. We were given instructions to "cease and desist" while we countered that we knew our rights. After a second warning we were assured that a third would mean our immediate arrest. We held our signs higher, all the while asserting their order was unlawful. The immigration lawyers huddled as far away from us as they could. Sgt. Virginia Quinones then got on her phone to consult somebody. I

Denver jury finds camp protester NOT GUILTY of tent erection (obstruction).

DENVER, COLORADO- Andrian "Monk" Brown was observed on HALO camera "erecting a tent" on the spot he'd been arrested two days before inside a similar tent. He was arrested escaping the scene of the crime and or walking his dog around the block. This week Monk was tried for obstruction, the deputy city attorney prosecuted the case herself but was unable to overcome the jury's inclinations that the charges were "silly". Monk's defense attorney rested her case without presenting a thing. Essentially the closing argument was this: did a three-man tent obstruct anyone in a large public plaza? NOT GUILTY. The jury had many questions of their own for the prosecution's witness, District Two Commander Anthony Lopez. The judge allowed none of them. One of the questions asked "what was written on the tent?" In fact the tent was decorated with many slogans and constitued part of the political protest in front of Denver's municipal courthouse. The protest had been going for three days, twentyfour-seven. The protesters had won a federal injunction preventing the city from arresting them for the pretext of "jury tampering". The protest was pushing up against the "urban camping ban" ordinance although the city refused to cite that infraction, instead confiscating the "encumbrances" of activists and charging them with obstruction. Many "evictions" later, several activists are now burdened with cases of "obstruction" and Monk's verdict offers hope that Denver juries will see through the city's pretext. An important lesson learned during Monk's trial was the opportunity offered by the police arrest video. While issues of "jury nullification" or the camping ban or the right to assemble or the police state would be impossible to sneak past a city attorney's objections, talking about them calmly over a megaphone during the police raid will give the jury a full uninterrupted twenty minutes of background context with which to reveal what "encumbrance" the city is really worried about.

Denver restricts public access to Lindsey-Flanigan Plaza, to circumvent federal injunction protecting protest.

DENVER, COLORADO- The 24hr protest in front of the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse was on its 31st day when city workers installed signs declaring a curfew on the courthouse grounds. Will the ongoing demonstration be grandfathered or will Denver police evict the Occupy Denver activists without notice? Occupiers meet tonight at 7:00 to decide a course of action. The signage cites trespassing ordinance "D.R.M.C. 38-115" which would halt overnight occupations of the plaza. It cannot but seem to be calculated to restart arrests of the "Jury Nullification" activists, who won a court injunction to prevent the city from making further arrests.

Eric Brandt sets speed record for First Amendment Jail-to-Freedom-Pipeline

DENVER, COLORADO- Eric Brandt got a surprise at the detention center courtroom on Friday. Then the magistrate who sentenced Eric for contempt of court got a surprise. Eric wore his "fuck cops" t-shirt into courtroom 2300 this morning where his friend Monk was making a first appearance while still in custody. Everyone waved to Monk sitting among the inmates and stood in solidarity until the judge entered. But it wasn't a judge we were used it seeing, it was Magistrate John Hoffman who Eric failed to recognize from one of Eric's 43 ongoing "fuckcops" cases. The magistrate asked Eric to stand, then read the text of Eric's shirt into the record, then reminded Eric that he'd warned him if he wore the shirt again in his courtroom he'd be held in contempt, and then he sentenced Eric to twenty days in jail. Eric objected claiming he had no foreknowledge that this magistrate would preside today and cited "Cohen v. California" as to why this sentence was unconstitutional. "Tell that to the ACLU" said Magistrate Hoffman as Eric was put in handcuffs. "Fuck You Judge Hoffman" exclaimed Eric. "I sentence you to ten more days for that outburst" shouted Hoffman. "Be sure to let the Sheriff know that Eric Brandt is to serve thirty days not twenty" Hoffman explained to the deputy as Eric was moved through the inmate booth. The magistrate had no name plate and neither the prosecutor nor the deputies would tell us his name. Finally a clerk outside obliged and I made a call to Eric's lawyer. Within minutes the magistrate announced that Eric should be brought back into the courtroom. A half hour later he was free, ordered out of the building, which he left loudly. It turns out Eric's lawyer hadn't intervened at all. The magistrate's "tell it to the ACLU" quip was repeated through the courtroom staff where it reached the city attorney's office. They made the call and told magistrate Hoffman to stand down. So Eric was sentenced at 9am and out by 10am. A new record for him at least. The accompanying photos do not have anything to do with Eric's Jail to Freedom speed record, but they're not entirely unrelated. They depict his next arrest later that day, the details to follow.

Denver activists seek court injunction to stop jury nullification arrests

DENVER, COLORADO- Civil rights attorney David Lane will address Federal District Court on Monday seeking an injunction to stop the City of Denver from arresting activists distributing fliers to inform fellow citizens about the legal concept of Jury Nullification. UPDATE: An injunction hearing has been scheduled for 2PM FRIDAY, August 21, at the Araaj Federal Courthouse.

Police try to enforce vagrancy code to halt protest at Clinton Global Initiative

DENVER, COLORADO- It was day two of protesting the neoliberal agenda of the Clinton Global Initiative 2015 conference held at the Denver Sheraton. Activist had already had Secret Service warn them about jumping out in front of the motorcade and security guards claim the sidewalk was private property, when a Denver motorcycle cop threatened to issue tickets to any protester who didn't remain standing. Denver does have an unfortunate anti-vagrancy ordinance that forbids sitting on the sidewalk. Though activist were surrounded by ordinary people eating their lunch or catching some sun, this officer made it clear that he had the discretion to decide which activity was allowed and which wasn't. To quote David Anderson, who took the picture: "What a Joke!...One of Denver's finest? Lard ass cops tells Caryn and Brandi they cannot sit down on buckets while protesting. Notice! Fat ass cop gives out warnings from a SITTING position!"

Homeland Security gets in on the act, tells Occupy Denver noise complaint will trigger arrest

DENVER, COLORADO- Fresh on the heels of their courtroom victory, Denver police tell protesters at the weekly Tattered Cover picket: "We've received a complaint. Stop using the bullhorn or you will be arrested." This from the window of a Homeland Security vehicle! On May 6th a jury upheld Denver's Disturbing the Peace ordinance, giving officers the right to stop political speech if they had the pretext of an onlooker's complaint that the noise is "loud and unusual". In the case of the TATTERED COVER FIVE, the objectionable noise was that of bucket drums. Case law has already established that protest drumming is protected speech, but city attorneys argued that didn't apply if the intent to make noise had nothing to do with the protest message. Though megaphones were cited as contributors to the noise, the city and its police officers were careful to warn the protesters that only the drums were the offending elements, presumedly because what came across over the megaphones was pretty obviously speech. Denver Occupiers returned to the Friday protest with little trepidation because we didn't have our drums. We conducted the 5:30pm homeless feeding, then led chants and distributed fliers as we have every week since January 2014. We were discussing perhaps using drums again, maybe beating them softy this time, when activist at the corner holding down the vocal outreach reported an alarming escalation. At 7pm the protesters at the corner of Wynkoop and 16th were approached by a police vehicle. From a rolled-down window an officer told they had to stop. "We've received a complaint" was the introduction we've heard before. "Stop using the bullhorn or you will be arrested." Um. No? It's the slow creep we anticipated, though probably a swifter kick of the boot than we expected. Give the DPD an inch and they want to hang you with it. Except this was no mere DPD cruiser. It was a police vehicle marked "Federal Protective Service" from the Department of "Homeland Security". Purportedly enforcing a noise ordinance. So what next? The course seems obvious but it means someone willing to risk arrest, someone ready with a camera to record official interactions, and others prepared to backup the videographer and act as legal observers. Should a simple protest aming to interact with the public require such an infrastructure of extra activists? When Occupy Denver undertook to boycott the offending businesses behind the Urban Camping Ban, it seemed commitment enough to feed the homeless, hold signs and print fliers. Now we have to consult attorneys and spring legal traps for the popo. So who's up to play bait?

Did you know that if you disagree with someone’s free speech you can call the cops and say their voices disturb you?

IN DENVER YOU CAN! Denver police have been silencing picketers at the downtown Tattered Cover Bookstore by asserting that complaints give them the authority to curtail the Friday evening protests at will, even before the 10pm noise restriction. The DPD cite "time and place" restrictions to free speech, such as, you know: you can't shout "fire" in a crowded theater. Apparently they're worried that crying "Boycott the Tattered Cover" will cause a stampede. We hope so too, and in a PUBLIC SPACE, we have that right.

Target of Occupy Denver boycott expects DPD to roll protesters like they’re homeless sleepers

DENVER, COLORADO- Downtown eatery co-owner Jon Schlegel thought the homeless were defenseless when he led an effort to criminalize sleeping or seeking shelter out-of-doors last year. Instead Schlegel incurred the wrath of Occupy Denver, who've maintained a now seven-month long Boycott Snooze protest opposite his trendy restaurant. Yes it's personal, Schlegel opened SNOOZE in a depressed area adjacent to a homeless shelter, now he wants to gentrify his digs by running out the homeless. So every Sunday occupiers bring signs to sway potential customers from supporting Snooze's war on the homeless, and every Sunday Schlegel calls the police. But there have been no charges, officers remind Occupiers they are within their rights, yet Snoozegoers are treated to the illusion that the boycott's legality may be borderline. You know, it's that phony paradox promoted by our corporate media, that free speech means having to tolerate another's opinion however offensive. (When free speech offends you, you are likely the offender being protested.) The real question is how Denver Police justify juxtaposing their intimidating armed presence against a citizen's First Amendment rights.

Court forces Colorado Springs to delay trying to implement anti-Free Speech/ anti-Panhandling Ordinance

Mayor Bach and his Right Winger cohorts on the city council of Colorado Springs had their first taste of reality in their efforts to suppress all of us in our own rights to enjoy Free Speech in this city. See ACLU challenge forces delay- Colorado Springs backs off on enforcement timetable --- Also notice this recent case in Denver, Colorado where... Jones v. City of Denver, No. 96-WY-1751 (D. Colo. 1996). Four homeless individuals, along with two non-homeless individuals with an interest in the information communicated by those who beg, brought an action against the City and County of Denver, Denver Chief of Police, and two police officers challenging the constitutionality Colorado's state law making it a crime to "loiter . . . for the purpose of begging."[13] The parties reached a settlement agreement in which defendants stipulated that the law violates the Due Process Clause, and have agreed to a declaratory judgment and injunction prohibiting enforcement of the law in the City of Denver. The court approved the proposed settlement agreement and the state legislature subsequently repealed the suspect language. Give the unemployed and homeless an income and jobs or leave people alone as they try to survive, You Stupid Corporate Pigs!

Colorado Springs anti- panhandling ordinance set to become Mayor Bach’s expensive big flop and political fiasco

The creepy new Right Wing mayor of Colorado, Steve Bach, has gotten HIS anti-panhandling ordinance passed this week and it's set to become an expensive big flop that city tax payers will have to pay out with our monies, as the city attorneys try to defend municipal enforcement for a clearly illegal measure that will fail all the basic tests in the courtroom. Why is that? Short answer is simply that the new law violates all OUR remaining rights to hear free speech voiced in this country and this city of Colorado Springs. See Amid debate, Colorado Springs may join cities banning panhandling where the LA Times shows us how this form of anti free speech legislation has been faring in other spots across the US? These anti- panhandling ordinances not only violate the free speech rights of the panhandler, but they also violate the free speech rights of those being panhandled, too. If somebody (a panhandler) says they are hungry or without medical care or a place to sleep at night, then I and you and all of us have the right to hear what our neighbor has to say and to respond to him/ her personally, since the elected authorities are clearly not doing any decent job of protecting the public from destitution these days. Sure, there are plenty enough non charitable people in Colorado Springs who want to be 'protected' from the free speech of the panhandler and the rest of us in the general public and are willing to have Mayor Bach pay police to jail people for that, but many of us out there want to be able to hear these panhandlers out and it is our right to hear free speech be expressed that is really what Right Wing Mayor Bach wants mainly to stop from happening. I have been to many a city council meeting and these self congratulators mainly want only to pat themselves on their backs rather than hear what other citizens have to say about the many real problems that many of us are really facing. These city council clowns want boosterism for the corporations and military and want the rest of us to just shut up and bow down to Big Money interests which they want to represent instead of Common Folk that live here. They want to suppress ALL our Free Speech rights and not help Free Speech of dissenting Americans who might be residents of here and not members of the favored castes. The ACLU should have an easy job of busting up Mitt Romney loving Republican Mayor Bach's anti Free Speech ordinance. How many of hundreds of thousands of dollars will the city of Colorado Springs eventually come to spend in trying to deny people their right to hear if somebody is in need? After all, that is what panhandling is all about, Bach. How much

Thank you, Soldiers, for defending our American Free Speech!

Thank you, Soldiers, for defending our Free Speech! You all military sweethearts are doing such a damn good job, too! Here is a you tube film of you USA soldiers going about your hard work protecting our American Free Speech rights. Love you, Storm Troopers and Snipers, Drone Mechanics, and Nuclear Weapons people! Love you DEARLY. Pacifist Kathy Kelly at Whiteman (funny the name, ay?) AFB.

Occupier vs The People, how they lie about ‘protecting Free Speech’ for us

Just the name Occupy Wall Street is an antiwar statement. The US military is an Occupier military against The People for the 1% Super Rich, and we are the exact opposite of such. We would Occupy the lands of the Rich and give to the Poor instead. The pro militarism people always say that they have 'served' to protect my 'Free Speech'. Does that occupier with the rifle look like he is protecting OUR 'Free Speech"? I doubt it. Remember Kent State and Jackson State!

Legalismo

This is a direct copy of the email i sent earlier today and then copied and pasted some before it dawned on me it would be much easier and more effective to post it here. Collins is a law professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His referenced comment appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette on 18 Oct, after my arrest but before the paper got the news to rectify a time-frame misconception i tossed around earlier. The version of that story is dated 17 Oct, but the paper version came out the following morning. I remain without legal representation and will accept any offer to confer, but no tapdancers to take the case. I'm not so stupid as to imagine i can learn the Byzantine procedure of Our shameful legal system before the 8th of November well enough to get the point across if i represent myself, but neither will i accept representation from someone who will not take my approach. Professor Collins: I am the guy arrested for camping in Colorado Springs. Although the perfectly certain fact has yet to sink in amongst many of my cohorts here in Colorado Springs, i am well aware that the point you made for the CSpgs Gazette the other day is entirely true. No-camping ordinances are by no means unconstitutional. This fact highlights the argument against the amendment of that original document by many of our founders fearful that the enumeration of some rights would expose others to attack. Current events managed to plop a soapbox and peculiarly focused bullhorn directly in my lap. I intend to plead not guilty on grounds that no-camping laws violate the pre-constitutional right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and that this case is exemplar of the general and drastic erosion of human rights in the U.S., and across the entire globe. I am not particularly concerned as to the outcome of the case, but extraordinarily pleased at the opportunity to publicly state a few sentiments i believe by observation to be both common and woefully unarticulated. I remain unbacked by any legal practitioner and i'd love your input, discussion, advice, council, suggestions, or connection, in any "and/or" configuration that suits your fancy. Warmest Regards, Steve Bass "Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken." --Oscar Wilde (Reprinted from Hipgnosis)

Opposing war is not a crime: stop FBI suppression of antiwar activists JAN 25

COLORADO SPRINGS - JANUARY 25 - Protest the recent FBI raids and the DOJ grand jury subpoenas aimed at intimidating members of antiwar and Palestinian rights groups. Join Coloradans For Peace and compatriots beneath the windows of the FBI field office, located in the Plaza of the Rockies downtown, the complex where activists have been prevented from visiting their senator's office, mostly a mall of investment bankers and brokerage firms. Not without irony, the main facade is named for war profiteer consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton. Come Tuesday Jan 25, from 4pm to 5pm. Meet on the NE corner of Tejon & Colorado.   Some consider the FBI to be the lesser of the US intelligence community's seventeen known evils. Shall we draw the line at surveillance, infiltration and instigation of peace advocacy groups? Eric Holder's Department of Justice won't go after war criminals, torturers, or any facet of President Obama's accelerated abuses on human rights. But they want to target humanitarian groups in hopes of tying their social causes to "terrorism, " the traditional authoritarian label for political rival.

Why does this sound familiar?

Village President John Deschane, 60, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, said many people in town believe it's disrespectful to fly the flag upside down. "If he wants to protest, let him protest but find a different way to do it," Deschane said Translation from Right Wing Bullshit to Real English: "You have the right to free speech unless we dislike what you say or how you say it" "We're Fighting For Your Freedom, How DARE you go ahead and actually use that Freedom?" Dispute over flag protest erupts in Wisc. village AP By ROBERT IMRIE, Associated Press Writer Robert Imrie, Associated Press Writer – Fri Jul 10, 2:44 pm ET WAUSAU, Wis. – An American flag flown upside down as a protest in a northern Wisconsin village was seized by police before a Fourth of July parade and the businessman who flew it — an Iraq war veteran — claims the officers trespassed and stole his property. A day after the parade, police returned the flag and the man's protest — over a liquor license — continued. The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin is considering legal action against the village of Crivitz for violating Vito Congine Jr.'s' First Amendment rights, Executive Director Chris Ahmuty said. "It is not often that you see something this blatant," Ahmuty said. In mid-June, Congine, 46, began flying the flag upside down — an accepted way to signal distress — outside the restaurant he wants to open in Crivitz, a village of about 1,000 people some 65 miles north of Green Bay. He said his distress is likely bankruptcy because the village board refused to grant him a liquor license after he spent nearly $200,000 to buy and remodel a downtown building for an Italian supper club. Congine's upside-down-flag represents distress to him; to others in town, it represents disrespect of the flag. Hours before a Fourth of July parade, four police officers went to Congine's property and removed the flag under the advice of Marinette County District Attorney Allen Brey. Neighbor Steven Klein watched in disbelief. "I said, 'What are you doing?' Klein said. "They said, 'It is none of your business.'" The next day, police returned the flag. Brey declined comment Friday. Marinette County Sheriff Jim Kanikula said it was not illegal to fly the flag upside down but people were upset and it was the Fourth of July. "It is illegal to cause a disruption," he said. The parade went on without any problems, Kanikula said. Village President John Deschane, 60, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, said many people in town believe it's disrespectful to fly the flag upside down. "If he wants to protest, let him protest but find a different way to do it," Deschane said. Congine, a Marine veteran who served in Iraq in 2004, said he intends to keep flying the flag upside down. "It is pretty bad when I go and fight a tyrannical government somewhere else," Congine said, "and then I come home to find it right here at my front door." At least they didn't beat up any elderly and disabled people... This time...

The crime of removing reporters from the scene of police crimes

St. Paul's Democratic Party mayor, Chris Coleman, is going to get away with his crime of allowing police removal of reporters from the scenes of police criminality. Yes, that's exactly what he is doing by 'dropping the charges' against all reporters captured by the police at the Republican Party Convention, and this 'dropping the charges' routine seems to be the new 'In' way to violate American's Constitutional Rights. No charges for reporters arrested in GOP protests How can one protest at political events if the police have the option to just arrest you, harass you in the courts for months, and ultimately to 'drop charges'? How can reporters go about their work? Any damages ever paid out are simply paid for with tax payers money, so it is slim consolation to actually sue for one's rights either? Plus, that is another way to tie your one lawyer or two up in court with the brigades of municipal and police lawyers. It is a form of financial harassment by public authorities that is just as legal as torture is in present day America. Proud to be an American? Why?

Top