Is a small town city official playing politics with the First Amendment
by Frankie S. Abbruzzino, The Uncensored Report
The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting …
I am surprised that the Mayor would even respond in this manner to this individual (See the Mayor’s response to an email below).
The First Amendment protects free speech from infringement by the city government. Passing out flyers and assembling is generally permissible in most public areas. Public areas consist of public parks, public streets and sidewalks, and outside public buildings. Yes folks, these areas are known as public forums, which are areas that can be used for the communication of any and all views on political and social issues.
I am not stating that the city can not place restrictions on the use of a public space. If the city felt that safety and order were a concern, the could place restrictions governing the use of public property for assembly and protest. However, I am not so sure that would fly, when it comes to walking around and handing out flyers in public.
So, is the Mayor playing politics? Should he be going the extra mile to put an end to individuals promoting Trump on public property? Would he take the same aggressive action with a Hillary supporter?
What if I told you that a similar issue came before the Mayor involving a Bernie supporter and the Mayors response was essentially no response, would you be concerned that politics are in play?
I am going to avoid stating the party that the Mayor is registered with, to avoid any non-partisan election issues. One has to wonder why he would take steps to stifle the First Amendment, if the individuals were out there promoting Hillary, versus Trump? Let me answer that for you, no he would not, based upon the last issue that came before the council that was very similar to this latest issue.
Earlier this year an individual was out at the Farmers Market handing out flyers for Bernie Sanders. An officer told him that it was illegal and made him leave. The individual wrote council and the City Attorney stated that the individual was well within his rights and that the officer acted inappropriately. I don’t recall the Mayor or any other council making a huge stink about this issue at the time. Perhaps because the individual was out there promoting a Democrat candidate? Who knows……………….
Now we have an individual that is upset about some Trump supporters being at the Farmers Market and the Mayor feels it is necessary to that ordinances should prohibit this from taking place. I know he was at the same City Council meeting, which I was watching online, when the City Attorney made it clear that this type of action was permissible…….
The bottom line is that this is public property. Any individual can walk around and promote their candidate for office. I only wish the Mayor would have gone to such great lengths to take action, when the similar incident involved a Bernie supporter earlier this year.
No matter if you are for or against Trump, you should be alarmed at this stasi like response by the Mayor. Today it may be the Mayor striving to shut down a person’s free speech that he disagrees with, tomorrow it could be another Mayor pushing to shut down your freedom of speech on your candidate of choice.
** Update **
Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2016 11:00 AM
To: John Holic
Cc: Sheila V Kaufer; City Council; Edward Lavallee; Dave Persson – Persson & Cohen; Tom Mattmuller; Judy Gamel; Heather Taylor; email@example.com; Roger Clark
Subject: Re: Venice Farmer’s Market – Saturday, 10/1/16
Venice Farmer’s Market
Venice Farmer’s Market – Saturday, 10/1/16JH
Yesterday, 10:24 PM
City Council <CityCouncil@Venicegov.com>;
Edward Lavallee <ELavallee@Venicegov.com>;
Dear Mr. And Mrs. Kxxxxx,
On behalf of Venice City Council, thank you for your comments. I am copying this reply to the City Manager, City Attorney and Chief of Police. I believe our Ordinances prohibit setting up of any signs on public right of ways and also prohibit obstructing free flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic. I am asking that staff inform us and the Farmer’s Market of any other restrictions that may apply.
Mayor, City of Venice
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Sent: Saturday, October 1, 2016 11:39 AM
Subject: Venice Farmer’s Market – Saturday, 10/1/16
To: City Council <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My husband and I attended the Venice Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning, 10/1/16. We were appalled to see 4 different people outright campaigning for Trump/Pence in front of vendors trying to conduct business. The Farmer’s Market Manager approached one of the Trump/Pence supporters to inform them that they need not be in front of the vendors. Unfortunately, as we were leaving the market, we encountered one of them standing directly in the middle of the concourse speaking to people and handing out literature. These Trump/Pence supporters were carrying campaign posters and had Trump/Pence on their shirts. In our opinion, It would have been okay if they had just been encouraging voter registration.
We spoke to the Farmer’s Market Manager and we told her that we would be contacting you. She said that she would talk to them again.
We would like to know what the City of Venice’s policy is for active campaigning at the Venice Farmer’s Market. We are sure that you would not provide them with a booth.
We are concerned residents of Venice.
Hal and Sheila
Paid for by Frankie S. Abbruzzino for Mayor, City of Venice