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Tell the police to let him go! - Absorbed

About Tell the police to let him go!

Previous Entry Tell the police to let him go! Nov. 30th, 2009 @ 02:10 am
This is a repost of a Facebook note. It was not written by me. I am posting it on my journal so I can show other people and ask for help.

Call to action - re: illegal arrest - updated
Today at 4:30pm
Activist Gustavo Rendon was just arrested for placing flyers regarding an eminent domain issue on cars parked on the public street. The arresting officer told him to take the flyers off the cars, Gustavo refused and was arrested. There were many witnesses to this event, including his wife, fellow church members and fellow activists that were collecting signatures regarding this issue at the time.

I called my city police station to find out if it is against the law to place flyers on a car and was told only if it was on a private property lot ie Walgreens or there was a sign nearby that said no soliciting.

So I called the police station he was booked at to find out the charge. I was transferred to booking, I spoke to the woman on duty, Cambell, she said he was booked for "illegal fixed advertisement" a "city ordinance". She refused to give me the ordinance number, by repeating that it was a "city ordinance"; I told her I needed the number of the ordinance in order to look it up and she hung up on me. I called her back, she threatened to hang up on me because she did not know, I asked her if there was an ordinance number on the booking sheet, she said no. I then asked if she could transfer me to someone that would know the ordinance number; she transferred me to the arresting officer, Officer Soomro. The transfer was not accepted by his desk/voicemail, I got the message that he was not taking calls at this time. I called Cambell back again and apologized for calling again, explaining that officer Soomro was not taking calls at this time. She put me on hold for a real long time, she came back and gave me ordinance number 86220990, I thanked her.

I looked up the ordinance number - it doesn't exist. So I called back my police station and asked them to look it up. I gave them both the number and the deception of "illegal fixed advertisement" - they did not find any such ordinance number and had never heard of that charge. I explained the situation to the officer and he informed me that when someone is booked, the ordinance number and the charge code must be on the booking slip. He then suggested that I call my alderman or the city council tomorrow morning at 314-657-1844.

I called back the police station that arrested Gustavo and spoke with an officer, didn't get name, he said that the ordinance number doesn't have to be on the booking slip but the charge code does (wow, the same city, but they have different rules on booking, depending on which part of town you are in- unacceptable!). I asked to be transferred back to booking to get the charge code on the booking slip. Cambell answered this question by saying that she didn't have time for this, asked me for my name and said that Gustavo could tell me when he got his one phone call. I told her that I am a concerned citizen and didn't know Gustavo, she laughed, said she was busy booking prisoners and that I needed to call back later.

The number of the police station is 314.444.2500 - Please call and demand that Gustavo be released immediately, as well as these bogus charges be dropped immediately.

A veteran activist added - We have run into obstacles from the police in the past. Sometimes it's clear that they are hostile to our effort to stop eminent domain abuse and other times they are just ignorant of our First Amendment rights.

In any event, in order to assert your rights, everyone should understand the difference between a political activity and a commercial enterprise.

Laws against commercial activity, like street vending or soliciting, do not directly relate to petitioning and expressions of political opinions, like pamphleteering. The latter are considered expressions of "core political speech" and as such enjoy greater constitutional protection.

If the police question your activities ask them what law or ordinance they think you are breaking and then ask them if that ordinance pertains to commercial activities or expression of core political speech. If they don't know, politely suggest that they look it up and then come back later with the answer (while you go about your business).

UPDATE:
The police department finally told us the ordinance number- 15.84.020

http://www.slpl.lib.mo.us/cco/code/data/t1584.htm

Which says:
15.84.020 Affixing advertisements on any structures.
Any person who shall wilfully or maliciously paint, post, place or affix any
business, commercial, amusement or exhibition advertisement, or cause same to
be done, on or to any curbstone, flagstone, or any other portion of any street,
or sidewalk, or upon any tree, lamppost, hitching post, telegraph pole,
telephone pole, hydrant, bridge or any public structure within the city, or to
any wall, window, door, fence, gate, advertising structure, building or other
object, which is the property of another, without first having secured the
written consent of the owner thereof, or his duly authorized agent, shall be
guilty of a misdemeanor. Nothing herein shall apply to any notice required by
law or ordinance to be posted, or to any official notices by public officers.
(1948 C. Ch. 3 § 3: 1960 C. §§ 737.010--737.030.)

City Counselor Ops.: 8088, 8310, 9003, 9626

The ordinance cited above does not apply if Gustavo was affixing a political document to cars on public property. The law makes clear distinctions between commercial and political speech.

Federal landmark cases have established "tests" for determining the constitutionality of laws forbidding passing out or attaching pamphlets. There is a body of well-established case law on exactly this matter.

See: http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/speech/personal/topic.aspx?topic=leafleting

I called the police department back after getting this update. I told the officer that answered the phone that I was calling in regards to an arrest that was made earlier that was unconstitutional. He stated "We already gave you guys the ordinance number." I said yes sir, you did and upon reviewing the ordinance, it is clear that it only applies to commercial leafleting and not political leafleting. The ordinance was purposely written this way, since political leafleting is protected by our first amendment rights. He then put me on hold.

Lieutenant Anderson then got on the phone and I repeated myself. I then asked the Lt if he could pull the case up to review it and to please drop the charges and release Gustavo immediately. He said he could not do that. I asked him why. He said once he's arrested and booked, it goes to the courts, the prosecuting attorney is to decide. I responded by asking why are we were going to waste taxpayer's money on a mistake made by a police officer, don't get me wrong I appreciate and am grateful for the work you do, but we have got to protect the constitution. He still told me he couldn't do anything. I asked if this was St Louis City policy, since other police departments have dropped charges before going to the court, prosecuting attorney? He said every district is different. I said as a St Louis city resident I would really appreciate if you would look over these charges and not waste taxpayers money. It shouldn't be that hard to say there was a mistake, we apologize, we didn't mean to infringe upon anyone's constitutional rights. He didn't really say much - I either got through to him, he didn't want to hear that or he realized the St Louis city police department is looking at a lawsuit. I asked his name again, which was Lt Anderson, thanked him for hearing me out and then my phone died.

Again -
The number of the police station is 314.444.2500 - Please call and demand that Gustavo be released immediately, as well as these bogus charges be dropped immediately.
Leave a comment
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From:rainedoutlife
Date:November 30th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
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I do not "appreciate", nor am I "grateful for the work [police] do".

Not that I don't agree with the cause. Just saying.
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From:captiousduality
Date:December 3rd, 2009 04:35 am (UTC)
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No matter. She showed that even if you do they won't cooperate w/ you. :(
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From:rainedoutlife
Date:December 4th, 2009 05:16 am (UTC)
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Why would they cooperate? It's the police.
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From:captiousduality
Date:December 4th, 2009 06:50 am (UTC)
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The guy arrested and his wife are both former police officers.
From:alerisukor
Date:June 7th, 2011 09:06 pm (UTC)

Познавательный блог

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Все прикольно написано
From:filipparyfej
Date:January 28th, 2012 03:30 am (UTC)
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Познавательно и занятно.
From:alurtaysok
Date:February 11th, 2012 07:04 am (UTC)
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Благодарю за блог
(Leave a comment)
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