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Archive for the ‘First Amendment’ Category

At least The Flagstaff police seem to have been pretty laid back about it.

At 3 p.m. on March 28, 40 people dressed in black and red arrived with a shopping cart blaring music in tow at Flagstaff’s Heritage Square and began swinging cushions at each other. The feathers and fluff flew, but the mass of people also collided with the cops.

Part protest, part pillow fight, the event aimed to raise awareness of and protest the arrest of the “Republican National Convention Eight” (the RNC8).

The RNC8 protested the criminalization of dissent in Minneapolis and St. Paul during the 2008 Republican National Convention.

They were charged under the Minnesota PATRIOT act in response to their political organizing. They all face up to seven-and-a-half years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge, which allows for a possible 50 percent increase in the maximum penalty. The legal expenses for those involved with the RNC8 are estimated to be $250,000.

The last time such charges were brought under Minnesota law was in 1918, when Matt Moilen and others organized labor unions for the International Workers of the World, also known as “the Wobblies.”
[. . .]
Aaron Levy, a second-year English graduate student at NAU donning a cat-ear cap, stood atop one of the Square’s benches and gave a speech through a megaphone.

“When we come to the pillow fight today, we want to show the world there is a better way to do things,” Levy shouted into his bullhorn. “You don’t need guns, you don’t need Tasers, you don’t need handcuffs, you don’t need politicians and we don’t need anybody but ourselves to operate in a world of peace and justice.”

The crowd cheered, and the cops crossed their arms.
[. . .]
The cops took Levy aside and began to question him about the complaints they received.

“You just gonna leave that out there?” Officer Condon pointed to the chalk.

“It will just kinda take care of itself,” Levy said.

“Nobody wrote anything vulgar or anything?” Condon asked.

“No sir. It’s just peace, love,” Levy said.

The cops let Levy go, and the group began to clean up the mess with borrowed brooms and bare hands.

Troy Farah and Matt Roberto, “Protestors ‘resist state terrorism’ with pillows“, JackCentral (NAU online news), April 2, 2009

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From Liv Films, an editorial about gay marriage, fat marriage, eating lobsters, and more. Mona of Liv Films was the “Ron Paul Girl,” but most of their recent work has been non-political. LMFAO (laughing my fat ass off)….

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Press release posted on the LP Radicals yahoo group. Starchild has had various offices in the San Francisco and California LP, and is one of the spokespeople for this initiative.

The San Francisco Department of Elections announced today that the measure prohibiting city officials from spending money arresting and prosecuting people for prostitution, and mandating equal legal protection for sex workers, has qualified for the November ballot. Of 500 signatures randomly sampled and checked by department personnel, 80 percent were found to be valid. “This is a happy day for San Franciscans who want government to focus on fighting real crimes like homicides and robberies, and are tired of seeing resources wasted in a futile effort to police consensual sex between adults,” said Starchild, a sex worker activist and spokesperson for the campaign. “We’ve cleared the first hurdle.” By the Elections Department’s tally, supporters had turned in 12,745 signatures of registered San Francisco voters on July 7.

The campaign to decriminalize prostitution will hold a kickoff rally and press conference to formally announce the results on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in front of the Polk Street entrance of City Hall, with
speakers to likely include Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who was a signer of the petition to put the measure on the ballot along with two of his board colleagues. “It is way past time that the
recommendations of the Board of Supervisors 1996 Prostitution Task Force were implemented,” said the measure’s proponent, Maxine Doogan. “Criminalizing sex workers has been putting workers at risk of violence and discrimination for far too long.”

The prostitution reform measure joins two other voter-submitted measures on the local Nov. 4 ballot, along with eight measures put on the ballot by the mayor or members of the Board of Supervisors, with many others expected to be added in the next several weeks.

Starchild – (415) 621-7932 / (415) 368-8657 / RealReform@…
Maxine Doogan – (415) 265-3302 / MistressMax@…

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Something stinks in the Sooner State.

Oklahoma voters were the only voters with no choices for president on their ballot except Bush Skull and Kerry Bones in 2004, and Oklahoma is one of 5 states that doesn’t permit write-ins, so Oklahoma voters who wanted to vote for someone other than Bush or Kerry in 2004 completely lost their right to vote (Source: Ballot Access News). In order to be on the ballot, an independent candidate or alternative party has to get signatures equal to 5% of the last vote cast, which is the hardest standard in the country, and they have to get 10% of the vote to keep their place on the ballot, second behind only Alabama with 20%. Half of the state legislative races go completely unopposed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court refused a challenge to this edict, and the feds have no jurisdiction.

Currently, there is an
effort
underway to change this crazy scheme by initiative, but Oklahoma makes it hard to get issues on the ballot by initiative. Statute initiatives must get the signatures of 8% of the voters, which is among the highest percentages among states which allow citizen initiative, and constitutional amendments need 15%, tied with Arizona for the highest percentage required by any state that allows constitutional amendments by citizen petition according to a chart by
National Voter Outreach. The signatures have to all be gathered within 90 days, and then the State Supreme Court can hold up approval for the vote to take place by over a year.

After you gather the signatures, you have to print the names of everyone who signed on the back of the page. Imagine having to do that several hundred times after you get back from a hard day of asking people to sign and getting run out (or attempted) of every location imaginable, public and private, or having to flip the page over and ask busy people to print their name a second time for every single signature – especially when working on more than one issue. Yep, it sucks, and is one of the most asinine rules I have encountered in petitioning in 27 states plus DC over the past ten years. And there are some very asinine rules out there, such as New England states requiring signatures from every city to be on a separate page, and Massachusetts ruling that any tiny tear, food stain, stray pen mark or writing outside the box disqualifies a whole page of signatures.

To make matters worse, in a decision in the case of Yes on Term Limits v. Savage, U.S. District Court Judge Tim Leonard upheld a challenged Oklahoma state law (in effect since 1969) banning out of state residents from being ballot petition circulators and signature-collectors there. Who, exactly, is a state resident? People move all the time. Some more frequently than others. Some people don’t predictably live in one place long enough to get a mortgage or apartment lease, so we prefer to live in motels or stay with friends (I resemble this remark). Some people don’t even have a place to live at all. Does that mean we should lose our right to petition the government for redress of grievances?

Shortly after this ruling, as Brian Doherty reports at Reason Magazine,

longtime libertarian political activist Paul Jacob was indicted on felony charges in Oklahoma for conspiracy to defraud the state, along with Susan Johnson of National Voter Outreach and Rick Carpenter of Oklahomans in Action.

It isn’t Jacob’s first time with the guns of the state aimed at him. He served five months in jail in 1984, after a year on the run, for refusal to register for the draft.

In his interview about the arrest with Brian Doherty, Paul Jacob explains:

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