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View Diary: Santorum+Occupy Tacoma=Tasered Protesters (71 comments)

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  •  Coffeetalk, sometimes it's like talking to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Horace Boothroyd III

    brickwall.

    It's not that the police shouldn't have arrested the person. It's the irony of the situation. I'm sure quite a few policeman are shaking their heads saying, What has the world come to when we have to arrest people for throwing confetti?

    Quit arguing so much and try listening for a little while, okay?

    •  I simply disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib

      I think you can't say that when the object of is the President.  I agree with you that if it were you or me, it would seem stupid to be worried about throwing confetti.

      Stuff that's nothing the vast majority of the time -- like throwing confetti -- takes on a whole new significance when you are doing it to the President.  For all the reasons I stated above.  That's where we disagree.  When it's the President, I don't think it's no big deal.   So, no, when it's the President, I DON'T think police are shaking their heads saying that.  When it's the President, I think they are saying, "what an idiot to think he/she could throw something at the President."

      •  In m y opinion you are a troll (0+ / 0-)

        or acting trollish.

        Do you recall all the Tea Party crowd yelling at Democrats in Town Hall meetings and outside the Capitol?  They weren't arrested.  People who heckle have rights too.

        First Amendment rights.

        Not the right to hear someone, the right to speak.

        "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

        by Steven D on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 12:46:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sigh. No First Amendment rights at a political (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib

          rally.  

          The First Amendment restricts GOVERNMENT, not political parties, private business, or other non-government entities.  Think about it.  Do right wingers have a "First Amendment" right to come to the Democratic National Convention and shout down the speakers? or get up on the podium and denounce the speakers?  Of course not.  The First Amendment is a restriction on what government can do ("Congress shall make no law. . .  abridging the freedom of speech.") It is NOT a licenses to go anywhere, and speak in any manner you want.  You have no First Amendment rights at a privately-sponsored (i.e., non-governmental) event, which is what a political rally like a party's convention, or this, is.

          Even at a government event, you can be restricted from shouting out in a disruptive manner, because government has a right to conduct business without disruption.  Have you ever sat in the gallery of the U.S. House or Senate?  I GUARANTEE that if you started shouting out, you'd be removed in a heartbeat.  

          Sometimes the misunderstandings about the First Amendment that I see at this site astound me.

          •  It was a public gathering (0+ / 0-)

            and the police are part of the gov't last I heard.  And the protesters were on public property. This wasn't any indoor private invitation only event.  The Occupy Tacoma members had a right to be there.

            Bzzzt.  Try again.

            "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

            by Steven D on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 02:56:25 PM PST

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          •  He was speaking from the steps of (0+ / 0-)

            a state building:

            The Santorum rally, at the Washington State History Museum, was the state's the most raucous political event since conservative talk radio activists provided a loud bump in the 1994 Hillary Clinton health care caravan.

            Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/...

            Conveniently located next to the Occupy Tacoma encampment.  Now either he has really stupid advance people, or he deliberately courted this vocal confrontation  by choosing to speak outdoors on the steps of the Washing State Gistory Museum.  Take your pick, but he could have scheduled this as a private location or at a location far from where the Occupy people were located.  He choose to speak in public and the public individuals at Occupy Tacoma had a first amendment right to speak as well.

            "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

            by Steven D on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 03:03:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  If anti-abortion protesters can, (0+ / 0-)

            from a public space, routinely scream and yell at clinic workers and patients as they walk into private clinics, why cannot the Occupy Tacoma folks enjoy the same rights, especially since Santorum was speaking himself in a public location?

            Please explain, and since you claim to be an attorney (I am a retired law partner) give me citations to actual case law, the rationale that would justify the arrest by police of people for heckling a person speaking at a public forum in a public place, i.e., people who are merely screamed loudly and advocating their own political beliefs such as the the anti-abortion clinic protesters do on a daily basis at clinics around the country.

            "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

            by Steven D on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 03:22:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  If you need any help finding cases (0+ / 0-)

              please let me know.  I already have several I can point you toward.

              "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

              by Steven D on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 03:44:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  public space doesn't matter. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VClib

              I assume that the Santorum campaign obtained a permit and paid the associated costs, including police protection.  That means that it is THEIR event and they control the message.  They do not have to let others with a contrary messge participate in their event.  See the Hurley case.  
              If this were a spontaneous gathering where nobody got permits and paid for security, then you would be correct that it would be a public forum and the free speech rights of the protesters would be an issue.  But that case shows that a group that gets a permit for an event even on the public streets has its own First Amendment right to control the speech at its own event, and they do not have to accommodate First Amendment rights of others.  

              The organizers of a permitted event, even one that takes place in otherwise public areas like streets or parks, controls the message and does not have to give others free speech rights at its own event.  

              Your turn.  I would love to see cases that hold that a private group that holds a permitted event in a public area has to accommodate the free speech rights of people who are directly contrary to the purpose and message of the permitted event.

              •  Your link does not open (0+ / 0-)

                "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

                by Steven D on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 05:28:10 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  515 U.S. 557 (1995). Unanimous Court. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  VClib

                  I tried to link to the decisiond.    Wiki has an article as well.  Hurley v. Irish-American Gay Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston.  A permitted parade had First Amendment rights to control the message of its event in the public streets and did not have to accommodate the First Amendment rights of another group they did not want to have as part of their event.

                  •  Your interpretation (0+ / 0-)

                    of the Hurley case is incorrect.  See my response below.  Receiving a parade permit doesn't grant you the right to unfettered control of who gets to express other opinions. It does prevent the government from forcing you to include in your parade groups that disagree with your message.  

                    In short the Hurley case is distinguishable on the facts and on the law, and your misreading of the decision to such a large extent is frankly astonishing.

                    "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

                    by Steven D on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 06:33:20 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Found the case (0+ / 0-)

                It is disnguishable on the facts.  Hurley involved a parade and who could be a party to that parade, not hecklers.  The facts of Hurley do not involve individuals heckling the parade participants.  Instead the fact involve a state law that required the parade organizers to include individuals in their parade.  The court ruled that requiring the parade organizers to include parties with whom they did not wish to associate violated the parade organizers first amendment rights.  

                Hurley had nothing to do with anyone who, standing on the sidewalk heckled the parade marchers.  If that were the case, every gay pride march could have Fundamentalist Christian hecklers (and having participated in a gay pride march I can attest that such hecklers are numerous and use megaphones to amplify their message of hatred of anyone marching in the parade) along the parade route arrested.

                Santorum, by getting a permit to speak on the steps of the Museum is not permitted to determine who can or cannot attend his speech at the public forum.  

                In short, Hurley is simply not a public forum case.  It is a case regarding who may participate in a parade for which a permit has been granted.  You might as well have cited the Skokie case where the city tried to prevent Nazi's from marching because of the content of their speech.  It has a much relevance as Hurley.  In both case the government was trying to limit the rights of the parade marchers, not the people who stood along the parade route to heckle them.  Thus, you citation simply isn't on point.

                More on point are the cases which discuss what is and is not a public forum, a limited public forum or a non-public forum. A case which survey the cases regarding the standards courts should use in determining what constitutes a public forum  or limited public forum is Cornelius v. NAACP

                http://law2.umkc.edu/...

                [T]he extent to which the Government can control access depends on the nature of the relevant forum. Because a principal purpose of traditional public fora is the free exchange of ideas, speakers can be excluded from a public forum only when the exclusion is necessary to serve a compelling state interest and the exclusion is narrowly drawn to achieve that interest. Similarly, when the Government has intentionally designated a place or means of communication as a public forum speakers cannot be excluded without a compelling governmental interest. [...]

                The government does not create a public forum by inaction or by permitting limited discourse, but only by intentionally opening a nontraditional forum for public discourse.  Accordingly, the Court has looked to the policy and practice of the government to ascertain whether it intended to designate a place not traditionally open to assembly and debate as a public forum.  The Court has also examined the nature of the property and its compatibility with expressive activity to discern the government's intent. For example, in Widmar v. Vincent (1981), we found that a state university that had an express policy of making its meeting facilities available to registered student groups had created a public forum for their use.  The policy evidenced a clear intent to create a public forum, notwithstanding  the University's erroneous conclusion that the Establishment Clause required the exclusion of groups meeting for religious purposes. Additionally, we noted that a university campus, at least as to its students, possesses many of the characteristics of a traditional public forum. Similarly, the Court found a public forum where a municipal auditorium and a city-leased theater were designed for and dedicated to expressive activities. Southeastern Promotions, Ltd. v. Conrad (1975).

                based on those standards cited above, the museum and the park are both municipal spaces, and either the museum is a traditional public forum or a limited public forum.  Granting a permit to Santorum does not allow him or the police to decide who may or may not attend or debate the speaker in that public forum, or otherwise exercise their rights of free expression, despite your claim that Hurley somehow (by osmosis perhaps) gifts him with that special right.  The permit, at most,  grants Santorum the limited right to use the Museum steps or balcony as a place from which he could broadcast his message.  It does not limit the messages that others in the public areas surrounding that forum may express, or deny them the right to express a message that does not comport with Santorum's message.

                In brief here are the facts as I have been able to ascertain:

                Santorum was speaking on public property (the Washington State History Museum).  I suspect that the Museum steps or property has been used many times by individuals for public speech without the need for obtaining such permits.  In any case, his use of that facility meets the standard under the case law for designating it as a public forum, whether traditional or limited, and not a "private" event which gave him unfettered control of the public space as you claim.

                Pugnetti Park, where the Occupy Tacoma members are located is a public place, as well,  Traditionally public parks have been deemed by the Supreme Court and other courts as public forums where citizens could engage in free speech activities. The park is less than a block away from the Museum. (you can look it up on Google maps if you wish or just take the word of this article: http://www.seattlepi.com/...

                Thus, whether at the park or at the location of the speech adjacent to or on the steps of the museum, the hecklers had a right to express their opinions of his speech, just as abortion clinic protesters have the right to picket, scream and otherwise express themselves from public spaces surrounding abortion clinics.

                If you watch the video you see the police dragging the men from the crowd at the speech and forcing him to the ground.

                If you also watch the video you can hear that Santorum has no trouble making himself heard (having a microphone will do that for you).

                The reporter claims a "scuffle broke out in the crowd.  What is apparent from the video they showed was that the men arrested were grabbed by the police.  Surprisingly no one else in the crowd was arrested, only the Occupy Tacoma members.  In my experience a "scuffle takes two to tango.  In any case, there is no video of the alleged scuffle, only the actions of the police, and a witness to the use of tasers after the men had been taken to the ground.  If the occupy protestors started the scuffle fine, but there is no video evidence that is the case.  

                From the video it is clear that the Occupy Tacoma folks are in the minority and surrounded by people who supported Santorum, or at the least by individuals who disapproved of the Occupy folks heckling Santorum and exercising their right to free speech.  

                However, heckling by itself is not grounds for a a criminal offense when the speech is conducted at a public forum, as laws to prohibit speech at a public forum are subject to strict scrutiny and must be narrowly drawn to serve a compelling public purpose.  Otherwise all those hecklers at the gay pride parades would be criminals for voicing their negative and hateful opinions regarding gays.  

                Nothing in the reports I've seen nor in the video indicates that the Occupy Tacoma hecklers were the cause of any disturbance, or that they prevented Santorum from making his speech heard.  None of the hecklers had a microphone after all.

                Obviously this is a fact intensive issue, but again the individuals were expressing themselves at a public forum under the standards created by case law.  Absent a compelling state interest applied to the facts for which the police arrested the two Occupy Tacoma "hecklers" (which we do not fully know as yet) the persons arrested likely have a valid First amendment defense to the charges against them, unless it can be demonstrated by valid evidence that their actions caused such a disturbance that their arrests were proper because of a compelling state interest (i.e., the threat of violence being the most likely alleged state interest).  

                From the video  released it certainly doesn't look like the men being dragged from the crowd were a threat to anyone and certainly not to the police.  Indeed I would argue that the people around the two arrested men may very well have created the disturbance and are the persons who should properly have been arrested.  

                Certainly, heckling at a public forum, by itself, does not justify their arrests, much less the level of force used (tasers) after they were already in custody lying on the ground and handcuffed (according to the eyewitness who spoke to the KIRO-TV reporter).

                You can claim anything you wish regarding the extent of the decision in Hurley, but it is, pardon the expression, pure horsepuckey.

                "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

                by Steven D on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 06:25:39 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  If you think that those protesters had some (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  campionrules, VClib

                  "right" to remain and the event and disrupt it, you are just wrong.  If this is a permitted event, the organizers have a right to hold their event without others stepping in and disrupting it.  Of course, your "public forum" cases do not involve people trying to use the First Amendment so as to disrupt someone else's permitted event. So, of course, your cases are, in your words, distinguishable on the facts and the law.  Your use of public forum cases to argue that a person has a First Amendment right to disrupt a permitted event held by a private party -- and they can't be stopped from doing that -- is ludicrous.  

                  I hope you are not advising anyone that they have some constitutional right to attend a permitted event by a private group and to disrupt it like that, and they won't be removed from the event.   That would be dangerous advice to give people.  People have to understand that if they attend an event like this, and try to disrupt it, they do not have some "constitutional right" to continue the disruption as long as they want.  If the organizers want the disruption to stop, they have every right to have the security stop the disruption of their lawful, permitted event.  

                  You can heckle speakers all you want.  When the organizers of the event view you as disrupting their permitted event, they will have you removed.   You don't have to be a "threat" to anybody to be removed.  If you are interfering with the organizers of the event holding the event that they were permitted to hold, you will be removed.  

                  If this were not a permitted event held by a private entity, your "public forum" cases might be applicable.  Show me a court that holds that someone has the right, under the First Amendment, to disrupt a permitted event and that the First Amendment means that they can't be stopped from causing that disruption.  That notion is absurd.  

                  •  I think you need (0+ / 0-)

                    to go back to law school.

                    A permit does not grant you the right to deny speech to anyone.

                    The court has never said that, nor does the Hurley case stand for that proposition.  Maybe you should have read it before inventing your imaginary right to deny free speech to others in a public forum merely because you have been granted a permit.

                    "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

                    by Steven D on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 10:50:08 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

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