Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Judge Finds Secret Service Violated Protester's Rights

There are several interesting things about this story (GuvWurld News Archive). I first found it on BuzzFlash. When I put an AP story in the Archive I always use Google News to find two or more websites running it. In this case, there were only three total and they all used the same headline: "City says it can't afford security for presidential, VP visits." I chose quite a different headline for this story-within-a-story.

Here are the sites:


Even though the story is in Evansville, IN, all three of those sites are in Kentucky. Much more interesting:
U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney ruled Thursday that police violated [arrested activist John] Blair's First and Fourth Amendment rights. The size of the no-protest zone "burdened speech substantially more than was necessary to further the defendants' goal of safety," McKinney wrote.
This so-called "no-protest zone" is the flip side of the more commonly mentioned "free speech zone." Free speech zones are of course Orwellian in that they actually abridge free speech, plus the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Shredding the First Amendment is just for starters. Consider that the Consent of the Governed is neither accepted nor sought, it is denied and deemed irrelevant. So on the one hand, John Blair's exoneration is certainly a measure of justice; but on the other, Judge McKinney validates the general principle of the zones. Blair's real victory is a false win for the rest of us.

The real title of the article describes an equally interesting situation:
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - After being "used like a pair of work gloves" by the Secret Service, Evansville no longer can afford to provide security for presidential and vice presidential visits, the city attorney said.

Evansville City Attorney David Jones also criticized the Secret Service for refusing to provide evidence, testimony and witnesses to help defend the city against a lawsuit brought by environmental activist following a 2002 arrest outside a fund-raiser featuring Vice President Dick Cheney.

A federal judge ruled Thursday the city must pay undetermined damages to the activist for violating his free speech rights.
That this city can't afford a visit from our naked emperors made me wonder how many others can't afford it either? Do any of them have a context for announcing such a thing? What context is needed? If none, what is there to be gained by announcing it simply as civil disobedience? Could there be advantages to doing the opposite, to aggressively announcing invitations to visit when they would never be accepted anyway?

I'm going to take this up with Peace Ambassador Linda Sorter when I interview her Tuesday night. I intend to renew yet again my ongoing commitment to advocacy journalism by trying to help her on her journey and promote her work.



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