Archive | Cases

SLAPP Court Support

Fighting corporate SLAPPs, from the streets to the courtroom

It’s been several months since a Washington State District Court granted four anti-harassment orders against me from Chris Toher, Lew Guerrette, Dave Harrison, and James McReynolds. Now we are finally approaching the culmination of the appeal of those orders, and I am represented by the Executive Director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center and the […]

CLDC buffalo

Another win for CLDC

Federal court dismisses charge against citizen journalist documenting buffalo roundup

Last week, a federal court in Montana dismissed a charge against a citizen journalist attempting to observe and document the government roundup of wild buffalo outside Yellowstone National Park.

CLDC Defends Right to Protest at Federal Plaza 24 Hours a Day

US District Court Judge Coffin will be hearing arguments on Occupy Activist Beatrice Semple’s challenge to the constitutionality of her arrest 11/8/12 at 11:15 am US District Court in Eugene.  The Court will issue a written opinion so stay tuned.

Related Documents:
Decl. M. Broadhurst
Semple Mo.Dismiss
Semple 3127856 Response

Historic Right to Protest Case Filed in Oregon
Civil Liberties Defense Center fights agency on constitutionality of protest requirements at Federal Plaza

Eugene, OR—The Civil Liberties Defense Center, Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep (SLEEPS) and Occupy Eugene will host a press conference today to announce a second round of legal actions to challenge the unlawful exclusion, permitting requirements, and enforcement that violated citizens’ constitutional rights.  The Federal civil rights complaint and related motion for an emergency preliminary injunction, filed against the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) cites violations of plaintiffs’ First and Fifth Amendment Rights, by enforcing permit and curfew restrictions at the Federal Plaza, a traditional public forum typically known as “the Plaza.” Currently protestors are demonstrating at the Plaza under threat of imminent arrest.

Lauren Regan, staff attorney for the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) who filed the lawsuit, represents members of Occupy Eugene including Plaintiff F. Emily Semple, arrested last July at the Plaza, and Terrill Purvis. The U.S. Attorneys office voluntarily dismissed Semple’s federal criminal case last week after Regan argued GSA unconstitutionally evicted Semple and OE from the Plaza. The Court appeared to agree with Regan’s arguments. When activists then returned to the Plaza on Dec. 13th, they were again threatened with arrest, and this lawsuit became necessary to put an end to these illegal government actions.

“We hope this case will renew the strong precedent in this country, to protect the First Amendment to the maximum extent possible. When one person’s rights are eroded, all of our rights are worn thin and made vulnerable,” said Regan. “It is only as a result of persistent vigilance in defending those rights, that they flourish–particularly in politically turbulent times like these.” According to the CLDC, if successful, the lawsuit will mandate the GSA to revise it’s permitting scheme in accord with constitutional law regarding First Amendment use of the Plaza and all other federal properties in the United States that they manage. The current GSA permitting process only authorizes use of the Plaza Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Accordingly, the GSA banned protest after 5 p.m. and on weekends, when most people are available to demonstrate.

Plaintiff Semple stated, “It is very unfortunate that our government apparently believes the First Amendment only applies to people during the workday. We hope to make it clear that our don’t end when the government goes home from work.”

The complaint cites that GSA’s enforcement places an undue burden on the people by requiring excessive permitting processes and denying Occupy permits in violation of the constitution. According to the complaint, the change in GSA policies were a response to the Occupy movement and may only be enforced on alleged members of OE, a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

“Even a single person must apply and be granted a permit before simply being present on the Plaza for First Amendment purposes,” said Regan. “These regulations place a serious prior restraint on those rights.”

The Supreme Court has upheld the right of the people to lawfully protest 24 hours a day on any subject whatsoever in a public forum such as the Plaza, including spontaneously. CLDC, Occupy Eugene and SLEEPS will continue to fight for the most expansive First Amendment rights and will not be silenced by persistent government repression.

Related Documents:

OE v. GSA complaint
OE v. GSA TRO MEMO

 

CLDC Defends Josh Schlossberg

Two police officers with the Eugene Police Department confronted environmental activist Josh Schlossberg as he handed out flyers and information to interested passers-by on the public sidewalk in front of the Umpqua Bank. Mr. Schlossberg was providing information on the negative impacts of some of the business investments of the Bank on the local forests. After one of the officers decided everything was in order, an EPD sergeant with a history of questionable actions against activists and others, investigated Mr. Schlossberg’s public activities again. Mr. Schlossberg told the sergeant that he was recording their interaction with a handheld camera that recorded video as well. The sergeant confiscated Schlossberg’s camera and then employed excessive force to falsely arrest him for surreptitiously recording a police officer.

The CLDC filed a federal civil rights (§ 1983) lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Schlossberg against the sergeant, Eugene Police Department, and the City of Eugene for police misconduct. In addition to determining whether the officer used unlawful force against Mr. Schlossberg, his lawsuit also challenged whether the City of Eugene violated the rights of all citizens by maintaining a custom or policy of ratifying and condoning police misconduct through the internal affairs process (police policing themselves as a result of civilian complaints) by not holding officers accountable for their misconduct, and basically rubber-stamping their unlawful or unprofessional behaviors. Section 1983 creates a cause of action against any person, including municipalities who, under color of law, deprive another of his or her rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the US Constitution. Mr. Schlossberg claimed that the City maintained a custom that allowed members of the EPD to engage in misconduct.

On Monday, January 23rd, a federal jury ruled that Sergeant Solsbee used excessive force in an arrest of environmental activist Josh Schlossberg. The CLDC has been working tirelessly for years on Schlossberg’s case and is pleased with the verdict. We hope that this case will be a precedent in protecting the rights of activists to film police officers. We are also pleased to see that an officer’s excessive use of force goes punished and that an activist brutalized is awarded reparations.