Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Your protest urgently required

On August 4, CP noted that the City of La Crosse is considering a new "special events" permit.

Today, we learned, from someone who attended that initial meeting, that the process is moving forward with a new section for MARCH OR PUBLIC ASSEMBLY.

Here's the pertinent part of the email:
"[We] attended a city planning meeting in August to clarify and ensure that 1st amendment rights are not indirectly negatively impacted by such changes to event permitting. In response to our comments and questions, an additional section was added. (see segment below or the full document here:  http://www.cityoflacrosse.org/specialevent ). I am still considering the ramifications of the proposal, including the additional wording, and want to make sure others are aware of it too. I can't attend the 10/1 city planning meeting but plan to follow up prior to next Tuesday 10/1).

ARTICLE III – MARCH OR PUBLIC ASSEMBLY Sec. 39-26. - Permit Required. 
  (a) No person shall set up for, hold or conduct a march or public assembly, as defined herein, within the City without first obtaining a March or Public Assembly permit in compliance with the provisions of this Article.  
 (b) The following public assembly or marches do not require a permit: 
(1) Groups of fifty (50) people or fewer may hold a public assembly in a City park, other similar City-owned property or private property without a permit. (2) Marches and public assemblies on sidewalks that do not obstruct the normal flow of pedestrian traffic do not require a permit. (3) Protests, marches and public assemblies in response to breaking news where such protest, march or public assembly is a spontaneous and immediate (within twelve (12) hours of the event occurring) response to a current event.  .."
I'm considering requesting that they increase the response time to 24 hours. Do you agree? Do you have other suggestions or want clarification on this matter or other aspects of the new permitting guidelines? I encourage everyone to read the full document and respond directly to Nikki Elsen prior to the 10/1 meeting, as well as attend the meeting.

--------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Elsen, Nikki <Elsenn@cityoflacrosse.org>
Date: Mon, Sep 23, 2019 at 3:36 PM
Subject: Special Event Permitting - City of La Crosse

Good afternoon,

I want to update you on the pending special event permitting process that was discussed at the Board of Public Works meeting on August 12th.  The proposal has made it’s through legal review and is scheduled for the upcoming October Council meetings.

Since the proposal was first discussed, changes have been made after review by our Legal Department.  Here is a link to the revised documents:  http://www.cityoflacrosse.org/specialevent.

Most of the changes were just grammatical or verbiage.  However, I know some that were in attendance at the BPW meeting were there with questions on how the proposal affected activities protected by the First Amendment.  A change made was to remove the exception language from the special event ordinance (Chapter 39, Article II) and create a separate section (Chapter 39, Article III) for marches and public assemblies.

If you have any questions after you have had the opportunity to review, please let me know.  I’d be happy to discuss the proposal, or any of the changes, more in depth prior to the October 1st meeting.

Thank you.
Nikki M. Elsen, WCMC
Deputy City Clerk
City of La Crosse (Population 52,282)
608-789-7555 phone
First of all, imo, what a bunch of BS! Who decided that 50 people is the limit? Why? In a city of 50,000, isn't a limit of 0.1% of the population pretty tiny? Also, who decides when an event is happening because of "breaking news"? Or that 12 or 24 or 624 hours is the limit?  

One could argue that the climate crisis, gun violence, ongoing deaths from lack of adequate affordable health care, gerrymandering and voter disenfranchisement, increasing income inequality, toxic racism, unlimited inhumane incarceration of immigrant children, mass extinction, rule by oligarchy, etc is continual breaking news. Or at least it should be.

Also, what if 10 busloads of 95 year olds walked with their walkers from the post office to the co-op at a rate of about 0.02 miles per hour. Would that be considered "obstructing the normal flow of pedestrian traffic?" Would they need a permit?

We have been gradually conditioned to accept these arbitrary restrictions on the few rights we still have through having to get permission to speak, go to the bathroom, and move from one place to another in schools, to having administrators censor student newspapers, moving from one class to the next triggered by bells, requiring permits for posting info on college campus bulletin boards, getting fined for chalking messages on sidewalks, being threatened with expulsion for protesting a speaker, or being herded to "free speech zones" at public events.

I hope we will hold a rally of 51 people in the city hall parking lot at 5:30 pm without a permit and then attend the 10/01 meeting and use our time to quote the bill of rights and the ACLU rights guides. Any restrictions, to me, are too many, but certainly these are at the very least arbitrary and indefensible.

The J&A committee is at 6 pm on 10/01 in the city hall council chambers. Official agenda with links is here: http://cityoflacrosse.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=673898&GUID=437C0742-C72F-43EB-BD6B-1B09E94A35AC

I also think it will be good to have a WORKSHOP ON FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS sometime in the next few months. If anyone would be interested to help put such an event together, please email couleeprogressive at hotmail.

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