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“You must be the change you wish to see in this world”

"Let us become the change we seek"

- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

“Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind”

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable"

- John Fitzgerald Kennedy  

 

  "A Truth, Love, and Freedom movement... working to change our 
political and economic systems through restoring OUR Country to The
Founding Principles, highlighted in the Bill of Rights. Regardless of  
propaganda levied against us, we are a NON-violent group, simply 
engaged in protected First Amendment Free Speech and Media. 
Freedom of Speech is NOT terrorism, as many mainstream news 
channels may imply on a continual basis.  Our UNALIENABLE 
Rights like Assembling and Bearing Arms are fueled by just existing on 
this planet. These Rights were fought for by the Sacred Blood of our 
Ancestors and the war continues to this day.  Presently, we 
are being heavily attacked in the Spiritual realm, yet we know we must 
be as gentle as a dove and as strong as a lion.  If you want to change 
something just look in the mirror and the world will start changing 
around you. We Respect and Honor Individuals who uphold their 
Oaths to the Constitution.  For the rest of you, may history forget 
you were Our Countrymen. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds 
you. The one who worships the Old World Order through false mental 
constructs by means of chaos, money and authority ought to be 
ashamed. We will NOT submit to this tyranny! Stand with us, while we 
build a commUnity that will make you proud, on the Right side of 
history!!"
 

 

11

Here is the letter written by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado to the Denver police department regarding WeAreChangeColorado member’s arrest back on June 11, 2008. For additional information and video of the original encounter, please see this article: WeAreChangeColorado member handcuffed and ticketed for free speech!

 

Following is the full letter, you can also download it here: ACLU’s letter to DPD on behalf of WACC (.pdf) 

 

June 16, 2008

 

David Fine
Office of the City Attorney
1437 Bannock, St., Room 353
Denver, CO 80202
VIA EMAIL David.Fine@denvergov.org

 

Chief Gerald Whitman
Denver Police Department
1331 Cherokee St.
Denver, CO 80204
VIA FACSIMILE 720-913-7029

Re: City Policy on First Amendment Activity on 16th Street Mall; Request
for Training Bulletin in Advance of the Democratic National Convention

Dear David and Chief Whitman:

 

I write regarding the City and County of Denver’s laws regarding First Amendment
activity on the public areas of the 16th Street Mall, and the misunderstanding
of Denver Police Department officers regarding those laws. 

On June 11, 2008, Robert Weiland and other members of the group “WeAreChangeColorado”
were standing on the 16th Street Mall sidewalk. Mr. Weiland’s group believes
in questioning and stimulating public debate regarding the official version
of the events of September 11, 2001. On June 11, 2008, Mr. Weiland and members
of WeAreChangeColorado were distributing free flyers and DVDs with their message
in a peaceful and courteous fashion to persons on the 16th Street Mall who wished
to receive them. Mr. Weiland states that he was not selling any items nor blocking
any pedestrian traffic. 

Like any other member of the public, Mr. Weiland and members of WeAreChangeColorado
had the right to engage in free expression on the public sidewalks of the 16th
Street Mall under the First Amendment and Article II Section 10 of the Colorado
constitution. 

Nevertheless, Mr. Weiland and the members of WeAreChangeColorado were confronted
by Denver Police Department officers, including DPD Officer Albert St. Peter.
The officers ordered Mr. Weiland to cease distributing the flyers and the DVDs,
on the basis that they were prohibited from doing so unless they had a “peddler’s
license.” 

In addition, the officers told Mr. Weiland and others present that the 16th
Street Mall was “private property.” A video1 recording of the incident
documents the officers consistently and uniformly stating, falsely, that that
the 16th Street Mall was “private property” and that a “peddler’s
license” was required to engage in this First Amendment activity on the
16th Street Mall. 

Mr. Weiland explained to the officers that he was giving the literature and
DVDs for free to people who wished to received them, and that he was not selling
anything. In the video, the officers in fact acknowledge that Mr. Weiland was
“handing out” free materials, not selling them. 

DPD officers, including Officer St. Clair, handcuffed Mr. Weiland and arrested
him. The summons is difficult to read, but it appears Mr. Weiland was cited
for violating D.R.M.C. § 47-35, an ordinance that does not exist. The officer
may have cited, or meant to cite, Mr. Weiland for violating D.R.M.C. §
47-32,2 which requires a license for persons engaged in peddling, which is defined
as selling or bartering goods. See D.M.R.C. § 47-16. The officers knew
Mr. Weiland was not engaged in selling or bartering goods. 

Officer St. Clair also cited Mr. Weiland for violating D.R.M.C. § 38-86,
“Obstruction of streets or other public passageways,” and D.M.R.C.
§ 38-115, “Trespass.” Neither Mr. Weiland nor any else distributing
materials blocked or obstructed any pedestrian access. The citation for trespass,
I assume, arises from the officers’ universal and erroneous belief that
the sidewalks of the 16th Street Mall are private property. 

During the arrest and citation of Mr. Weiland, the officer asked Mr. Weiland
and other members of the group whether or not they planned on engaging in such
First Amendment activity during the Democratic National Convention. As documented
in the video taken of the incident, the officers stated that Mr. Weiland and
the other members of the group should have “researched the law”
before attempting to engage in their First Amendment activity, and that had
they done so, they would have known they had to first obtain a peddler’s
permit to distribute their free materials. 

It is likely that during the Democratic National Convention, many people will
wish to engage in First Amendment activity on Denver’s public areas including,
but not limited to, sidewalks and the 16th Street Mall. As the video makes clear,
of the numerous officers at the scene, all the officers agreed (or if they disagreed,
did not correct the erroneous statements of their fellow DPD officers) that
a “peddler’s license” was needed to distribute free literature
on the mall sidewalks, and that the 16th Street Mall was “private property.”
As a consequence of those misperceptions, DPD officers arrested and cited Mr.
Weiland for engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment and Article
II Section 10 is of even more disconcerting. 

In anticipation of the Democratic National Convention, we request that Denver
provide additional instruction and training to its officers regarding the First
Amendment protections afforded to persons demonstrating in public forums including
the 16th Street Mall. In addition, as you know, the D.R.M.C. was recently revised
to permit a broader range of First Amendment activity in Denver. For example: 

  • The former version of the code purported to require a single person in a
    public park expressing their views to obtain a permit to do so. The revised
    version of this code makes clear that no permit is required for any group
    less than fifty persons. See D.M.R.C. § 39-76(a).
  • The revised code also makes clear that no permit at all is required in instances
    where it is not “reasonably possible to obtain a permit in advance of a short
    notice activity.” See D.M.R.C. § 39-85.
  • The former version of the code purported to criminalize “offensive” conduct
    or “loud and unusual” noises in public parks. The revised version of the code
    restricts the prohibition and criminal sanction only to actions “calculated
    to provoke a breach of the peace.” See D.M.R.C. § 39-12.
  • The revised code creates new guidelines and procedures for the limited instances
    in which public assembly permits can be revoked. See D.M.R.C. § 39-80. 

In advance of the Democratic National Convention, we request that the Denver
Police Department issue a training bulletin to all its officers correcting the
misunderstandings that resulted in the arrest of Mr. Weiland, and that makes
clear the protections and time, place and manner limits on First Amendment activity
in Denver’s traditional public fora. Such a training bulletin could help to
minimize, if not eliminate, the possibility that DPD officers will continue
to misinterpret the law and make additional wrongful arrests like that of Mr.
Weiland. If you are agreeable, the ACLU of Colorado would be happy to provide
comments and feedback on drafts of any training bulletin, similar to our cooperative
effort with the revision of the parks and parade permitting ordinances.

Alternatively, if Denver believes that First Amendment activity on the 16th
Street Mall requires a permit, and/or that the mall is private property, please
explain that understanding to us. If we do not hear from you in response to
this letter, we will assume that the officers who arrested Mr. Weiland were
acting pursuant to and consistent with Denver policy, and that if Mr. Weiland
or any other person engages in similar expressive activity on the 16th Street
Mall in the future, they will be arrested and cited. 

Thank you for your consideration of this matter. If I can provide any more
information, please do not hesitate to contact me. 

Very truly yours, 

Taylor Pendergrass
Staff Attorney, ACLU of Colorado 

Enc. General Sessions Summons and Complaint 

cc. Weiland

Posted on: Friday, July 11, 2008