Occupy Denver: Charge against plaintiff in David Lane lawsuit dropped days before court date
Among those listed is Daniel Garcia, who spoke to Westword's Kelsey Whipple for a November 16 post about being ticketed for honking. Also represented is occupier Rob Piper, featured in an October 21 item about Occupy Denver developing a democratic process and suspending its first member. At the time he told Whipple, "We must decide whether we are a circle jerk or a social fucking movement."
The major areas addressed by the complaint are "No horn honking -- ordinance enforcement," "'No stopping' traffic enforcement," "Right of way ordinances" and "Enforcing park curfew laws." In each of these areas, the complaint maintains that plaintiffs' First Amendment rights have been unconstitutionally curtailed by representatives of the city and county.
How should these allegations be addressed? Here's the document's prayer for relief:
a. Immediately hold a hearing on this complaint;
b. Issue a declaratory judgment that Defendants' acts as described in this Complaint undertaken in retaliation for free speech are depriving Plaintiffs of their rights to free speech, assembly and association, in violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States;
c. Issue an injunction against Defendants barring them from in any way from enforcing the noise ordinances, the parking ordinances, the sidewalk ordinances or the park curfew ordinances in retaliation for the free speech and associational activities of the Plaintiffs and other "Occupy Denver" protestors and/or their supporters;
d. Award Plaintiffs their costs, expenses and reasonable attorney's fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988; and
e. Grant such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.
Read the entire document below, followed by our earlier coverage.
Update by Michael Roberts, 8:07 a.m. November 21: Attorney David Lane confirms his plan to seek an Occupy Denver-related injunction either today or tomorrow. Below, he shares his four-pronged approach to defending the free speech rights of occupiers and their supporters, as well as his doubts about collusion denials by the City of Denver and the State of Colorado.
On Friday, Lane's law firm, Killmer, Lane & Newman, shared Colorado Open Records Act requests sent to the state and city. The documents asked for any record of communication with officials at other Occupy Wall Street sites across the country, in an effort to demonstrate that the timing of nationwide crackdowns on assorted occupiers had been coordinated. At the time of our last update, Colorado had responded by maintaining that it had no communication that fit the request. Today, Lane says the city has done the same -- not that he's convinced.
"I cannot imagine that they really have nothing," he concedes. "But if they say they have nothing, short of seizing the city's e-mail system, there's not much I can do."
In contrast, he feels he has plenty of options in regard to filing an injunction. Over the weekend, the Denver Post reported that Lane's actions were spurred by TV station pieces about ticketing for honks in support of Occupy Denver -- items that followed Westword staffer Kelsey Whipple's coverage of that subject and a previous offering about citations for people who pull over to drop off donations. But Lane's efforts are broader than that.
Photo by Kelsey Whipple Protesters gather in front of tents erected on November 12 before police intervention.
"We're going after three, and possibly four, issues in this lawsuit," he reveals. "One is honking. One is ticketing people who stop to give money, food or clothing. The third is going after people who put any items down on the sidewalk in this five-foot swath that the police say has to be completely clear. And we're looking into whether or not we can go after the curfew in the park. It's absurd that after 11 p.m., if anyone sets one foot in the park, they get arrested and everyone's got to stay on the sidewalk at that point."
In addition, Lane has a strong point of view on the question of whether or not the Occupy Denver tents banned by the DPD constitute speech. "If you look back through this country's history, back to the bonus army that marched on Washington in the Depression era, tents have long been part of protest," he notes. "A tent is a symbol that 'we're in this for the duration. We're not going away.' So it is a form of speech."
At this writing, Lane hasn't definitively lined up an individual who was ticketed for either honking or dropping off supplies. "We're hoping to make contact with them today," he says. "But we have plenty of plaintiffs in this case. You don't necessarily have somebody who's been ticketed. The idea here is that when police ticket anyone for engaging in free-speech activities, they chill a person of ordinary firmness from engaging in similar conduct -- like a bunch of people who would like to provide food, clothing or money, but are being deterred from doing so for fear of being cited."
To Lane, legal efforts like his firm's are needed to protect the First Amendment rights of occupiers, and the rest of us. "You watch video clips of the police in Egypt cracking down on protesters, and video clips of the cops in Iran doing the same thing," he points out. "Then, you see video clips of UC Davis police acting like they're the Egyptian police, or Oakland police beating people as if they are in Iran.
"Any incursions in free speech bring us closer to that sort of society," he goes on. "And our goal is to stop it as well as we possibly can. Any incursions in free speech are met with zero tolerance by us."
Page down for our earlier coverage.