Community Groups Join ACLU of Sacramento to Oppose New Ordinance that Restricts Constitutional Rights
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, Sept. 10, 2012
Sacramento City Council Tuesday Poised to Limit Free Speech; Community Groups Join ACLU of Sacramento to Oppose New Ordinance that Restricts Constitutional Rights
SACRAMENTO – Community representatives, including members of veterans groups, Occupy and the ACLU, said they will rally against a controversial measure to be considered Tuesday (9/11/12) by the Sacramento City Council that would limit and restrict free speech rights at City Hall – including an outright ban on any free speech activity after 11 p.m.
Occupy Sacramento plans to hold a potluck – illegal under the new law if passed – in front of City Hall at 4:30 p.m. There will be a news conference at 5 p.m. The Council meets at 6 p.m.
The City Council Law & Legislation Committee approved the language Aug. 9, after making changes suggested by the ACLU of Northern California, including provisions to allow unpermitted protests. Previous versions of the ordinance did not allow demonstrations without a permit.
In a letter to the committee, the ACLU/NC said the proposal "contains numerous unconstitutional burdens on speech... The prior version of the ordinance would have imposed an unconstitutional prior restraint on political speech through its onerous permitting requirement. The current version of the ordinance no longer contains that particular defect, but still imposes unnecessary and unconstitutional burdens on speech. We therefore urge you to oppose it."
Among the still objectionable parts of the revised ordinance are curfew restrictions – free speech would be made illegal after 11 p.m. at night until 7 a.m. Currently, constitutionally-protected events can take place on City Hall property for 24 hours a day.
The proposed ordinance will also restrict and criminalize other protest activities on City Hall property, including protesting too close to the building, sharing food and "harming" the lawn by walking on it.
Among the very restrictive portions, in addition to the curfew prohibiting free speech after 11 p.m. are (1) a buffer area around entrances, preventing peaceful demonstrations too near City Hall; (b) a host of other restrictive rules, including making it illegal to give food to someone, or making it a crime to sit around the fountain, or prohibiting tables to display free speech materials any closer than about 50-75 feet from the building (essentially not in the plaza but the outside sidewalks). And, those with resources to pay for a permit, insurance and security will take precedence over those without the financial wherewithal. Some demonstrators will be more equal than others.
The proposed ordinance can be found at: http://sacramento.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=21&event_id=663&me...