Dear lovers of freedom with responsibility…
[UPDATE: The Human Rights Commission will NOT be meeting on Friday.]
[Janelle Egger, who has sued the county over the unconstitutional “urgency ordinance” passed earlier this year,
urges people to attend a meeting of the Human Rights Commission tomorrow, Friday, at 2pm at the Courthouse in Eureka, Conference Room A. She sends the following… –Mitch]
Dear all lovers of freedom with responsibility,
It is time once again to write, call, speak out for our free speech and peaceful assemble rights. The draft changes to the “urgency” ordinance call for repeal of the curfew, a big step in the right direction. But the portion to remove the ban on the simple use of tables, free standing signs and displays does more. It adds restrictions on where you can be and where and when tables/signs are allowed. And no language is added to allow Women in Black and Vets for Peace to continue their weekly vigils with signs posted as they have for years. Such unjustified and arbitrary rules run counter to a free society and can be the basis for government harassment.
Remember the Bill of Rights added individual protections against abuse of government powers to ensure public confidence in the government. Number one, there be no laws “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” The Supreme Court has allowed exceptions to this rule, but to be “reasonable” restrictions must pass a four part test. Rules do not pass [if they] do not address a significant governmental interest and [if they] unduly [interfere] with our rights . We need to write and/or speak to avoid continuing the flawed process of trying to make the urgency ordinance acceptable. We can do better than acceptable, we can have an ordinance we are proud of.
In June the Human Rights Commission unanimously called on the Board of Supervisors to repeal the urgency ordinance and begin “working together on developing appropriate ways to deal with issues of free speech, public health and safety, and rights to assemble, speak, and demonstrate on public property.” The simple gesture of repeal would set the stage for an open, positive process. The Commission needs support to stay committed to their recommendation of supporting our rights through communication, education, accommodation and enforcement of previously existing laws.
The Human Rights Commission will have a special meeting tomorrow, Friday the 10th, at 2:00p.m. in Conference Room A, first floor of the Courthouse. The ordinance amendments will be on the agenda.
If you can, please be at the meeting at 2:00 Friday in Conference room A.If not, take a minute to send a message to email@example.com.
Yesterday the Clerk to the Board of Supervisors staff confirmed that the ordinance amendments are scheduled for Tuesday’s agenda.
We need to thank supervisors Lovelace, Sundberg, and Bass for taking the first step of repealing the curfew and once again tell the Board that Humboldt can do better than the “urgency” ordinance. Let’s remind the Board that the front of the Courthouse has been used for years. There have been assemblies that filled the entire space with people with every type of accessory. There have been lone individuals with a sign and/or candle.
We can honor all forms of past expression and assembly if the Board will take the next step and repeal all needless restrictions. We want to allow groups such as Women in Black, Vets for Peace, the Tea Party, and individuals to again hang or stake signs and banners, protect themselves from the elements, and set up all types of display of information in order to express themselves. We want assemblies large and small to gather freely as has been done for years. Petty rules about placing personal property, spacing of two parts of a display, serving food, or rules written so broadly that First Amendment conduct can be impacted will be used only when there is an individual or group with an unfavorable message or simply disliked by the powers that be. It was for that situation that the First Amendment was written.
In short big questions remain: What significant governmental interest requires the restrictions? What justifies applying these restrictions to an area that has long been used for First Amendment related expression and peaceful assembly? Is there language in the ordinance so all encompassing that it can be used to harass free expression of ideas and peaceful assembles?
Please help save time, money and our First Amendment rights in front of the Courthouse; ask the Board of Supervisors to repeal the “urgency” ordinance in full. This simple gesture of trust and hope would set the stage for an open, positive process. If that is too much to ask, then they can at least direct that all language that impacts First Amendment Rights be removed.
Rex Bohn <firstname.lastname@example.org> 476-2391
Cliff Clendenen <email@example.com> 476-2392
Mark Lovelace <firstname.lastname@example.org> 476-2393
Virginia Bass <email@example.com> 476-2394
Ryan Sundberg <firstname.lastname@example.org> 476-2395
Thank you for your support.