Monday, August 3, 2009

Permits for Free Speech?

Isn't it interesting that you need permission from the Federal Government to walk around on public sidewalks with political signs that the Federal Government doesn't agree with? Permits for Free Speech & Peaceable Assembly?


Video was posted by Young Americans for Liberty.

10 comments:

Bob S. said...

Not sure if the cop was right.

From a quick read of the 36 CFR 7.96
(2) Permit requirements. Demonstrations and special events may be
held only pursuant to a permit issued in accordance with the provisions
of this section except:
(i) Demonstrations involving 25 persons or fewer may be held without a permit provided that the other conditions required for the issuance of a permit are met
and provided further that the group is not merely an extension of another group already availing itself of the 25-person maximum under this provision or will not unreasonably interfere with other demonstrations or special events.


http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2004/julqtr/36cfr7.96.htm

I don't know where they were, but unless there was more than 25 of them, I would say they don't need a permit and it was unlawfully broken up.

Notice how the SWAT cop didn't count, didn't bother to ask how many?

Dustin said...

Yes I noticed that too. The first officer was asking how many, and he told her he wasn't sure exactly how many. She was probably trying to figure out if there were more than 25 but she didn't mention that to him.

Eric said...

I wonder if the first officer has ever read a history book. Wasn't it about 60 years ago that the police would unleash attack dogs, wield truncheons and use tear gas on the very people that fought ( and died ) so that one day she could wear the uniform of a police officer.

It would be interesting to see the police reaction if those involved were following 36 CFR 7.96 to the letter. Chances are that S.W.A.T. probably knew very little beyond that a permit was required.

I have found that when someone is more knowledgable of the law than those that enforce it, that person usually ends up handcuffed very quickly.

Forgotten Liberty said...

It seems like the first cop was trying to do her job and enforce the law by asking how many were there, but the second guy (swat) didn't care at all. The reason a permit is required is to give a heads up to police and other agencies that a large group of people may be gathering in a certain area (for traffic control and extra cops in case things get out of hand), so it has a legitimate function and permits are almost never denied. However when the swat guy said that they couldn't walk around with the signs was B.S. They could have just broken up into groups of 25 and could have protested all they wanted. I guess the swat guy just wanted some action because he wasn't willing to let them know what the law was.

Dustin said...

I think we should replace the permit system with a notification system. We just fill out a form letting the Federal Government know when/where/how many, and Uncle Sam can choose to be there or not.

It doesn't make sense to require approval from an unelected Federal Bureaucrat to walk around on public sidewalks with paper signs.

Counsel said...

The young man states

"We have people all around the national mall."

With no accurate number provided by those holding the demonstration, the police may have been able to ask for the group to leave.

The question I would like to ask them is why didn't they know their rights prior to showing up in Washington D.C.?

The first amendment is not an absolute freedom to say what you want, where you want, how you want, ... Rather, the law prohibits free speech to location, time, etc... Slander is illegal as, apparently, is having more than 25 people demonstrating without a permit...

The reg cited, in relevant parts, states

"Demonstrations involving 25 persons or fewer may be held without a permit provided that the other conditions required for the issuance of a permit are met and provided further that the group is not merely an extension of another group already availing itself of
the 25-person maximum under this provision or will not unreasonably interfere with other demonstrations or special events."

So, if there were spread out all over the mall, they might have had more than 25 people.

If you had the permit, you would know your rights and would have been able to continue your demonstration... If you knew you had less than 25, you could have cited the reg and they should not have asked you to leave...

The reg also states:

"Demonstrations may be held in the following park areas without a permit provided that the conduct of such demonstrations is reasonably consistent with the protection and use of the indicated park area and the other requirements of this section."

I am not going through the complete reg, but you get the point...

Know your rights before you get into trouble... Ignorance of the law isn't an excuse, and the complaining, without much logic/reason, about some alleged infringement of your 1st amendment right does not look good if, in fact, you did need a permit and if your 1st amendment right was not violated...

If you didn't need a permit, you needed to have provided the correct data. Of course, it could be that he knew they had more than 25 and did not have a permit and just wanted to get 'video' for YouTube...

Either way, the group needs more polish, and critical thinking, good references, and logical discussion might reflect better on their organization.

Dustin said...

Those are all good points Counsel. I still think the whole idea of asking the government for permission to walk on a public sidewalk with paper signs is just wrong. I think we should replace the permit system with a notification system. We don't need Uncle Sam's permission to walk on public sidewalks, but he can ask us to notify him.

Bob G. said...

Dustin:
Makes 'ya wonder about those racist Black Panthers intimidating voters then in Philadelphia...I mean they certainly DID NOT add up to 25 in number, and YET, they were allowed to do the "jackboot" gig with people trying to vote in philly, carrying CLUBS for God's sake.

Sadly, the case against them was tossed out in some federal court, (although civil litigation aganist one of them is still pending).

Fair?
Not hardly.

Good post.

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