Judge: First Amendment Applies in Ferguson, Missouri Too

A federal judge has informed the police agencies in Ferguson, Missouri that the First Amendment still exists and will be enforced in that city. Specifically, the court ruled that the policy of arresting people for standing still for more than 5 seconds during protests is clearly unconstitutional.

But the first court ruling has been issued telling police to stand down when it comes to dealing with protesters. U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry held Monday that police can’t force protesters to “keep moving” — what some have dubbed the “five second rule.”

Police have developed a practice that prohibits protesters or others in protest zones from standing still. The upshot of this policy has been that even protesters who are peacefully praying, holding public gatherings, reporting the news, and informing others of their rights have been corralled into assembly lines and told they will be arrested if they don’t “keep moving.” Officers have also threatened protesters for walking too slowly, or who walk back and forth within a limited space. And they have followed through on those threats. After one individual was arrested under the policy, citing a “failure to disperse,” an officer told an NBC News reporter: “He was supposed to keep moving, just as you’re supposed to keep moving.”

The net effect, Judge Perry concluded, was that it prevented protesters from exercising their right to “peacefully assemble on the sidewalk.”

“The rule provided no notice to citizens of what conduct was unlawful, and its enforcement was entirely arbitrary and left to the unfettered discretion of the officers on the street,” Perry held. She issued a preliminary injunction, meaning police must halt their practice pending a permanent ruling.

It’s hard to imagine a more blatant violation of the right to peaceably assemble.

"So the Illuminati are more powerful than God, but if people just pray a little ..."

Taylor: The Illuminati Sent the Hurricanes ..."
"Eh, I'm not sure I would even go to "wrong". Perhaps inappropriate, rude, in poor ..."

Two More Accusers Step Forward in ..."
"The definitions of the terms are different in different countries. Some countries, it's assault. In ..."

Two More Accusers Step Forward in ..."
"Remember : when Alex Jones/Fox News/Jim Bakker/another wingnut tell that the Clinton run a pedophile ..."

Moore Controversy Shines Spotlight on Evangelical ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • lakitha tolbert

    So really there’s nothing you could be doing on the street that wouldn’t have you arrested. Standing still, praying, walking? Is running in place acceptable? You can be arrested for moving too slowly, although I imagine if you move too fast, you may simply be shot?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    It’s hard to imagine a more blatant violation of the right to peaceably assemble.

    Wrong.

    By definition “peaceably assemble” cannot include people gathered together to punch up. Now, if they were blaming their troubles on the working poor getting access to subsidized health insurance, that’s another matter entirely.*

     

    * “Hey hey! Ho ho! We’re here to fight for the status quo!”

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Also, my biggest problem with deja vu is the feeling I’ve had it before. Seriously.

  • robertfoster

    I’m confused. Don’t he police make up the law as they see fit? What’s a court doing getting involved in such a fundamental part of the American legal process? Next thing you know a cop can’t shoot somebody for not wearing a seat belt or refusing to show ID. The people need to be in trembling dread of the police for the system to function as it was intended. The first thing most careful parents tell their children is ‘The police are not your friends, they are not there to help you, their job is to arrest you for anything you may say, think or do. It is their job to keep the prison system full and the local government treasuries in the black.’

  • D. C. Sessions

    It’s hard to imagine a more blatant violation of the right to peaceably assemble.

    Seriously, Ed? I mean, seriously?

    Because I’ve seen examples in recent years of protesters being herded into enclosures and then arrested for failure to disperse. Just to pick one.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    It’s hard to imagine a more blatant violation of the right to peaceably assemble.

    Free speech zones? Pepper spray? Pretty much the entire reaction to the Occupy movement?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    D. C. Sessions “Because I’ve seen examples in recent years of protesters being herded into enclosures and then arrested for failure to disperse.”

    Ferguson beats that. They had locked Free Speech zones that people couldn’t get herded in to.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Tabby Lavalamp “Free speech zones? Pepper spray? Pretty much the entire reaction to the Occupy movement?”

    Sure, but on the other hand, dirty hippies.

  • John Horstman

    @Modusoperandi #2: I’m so taking that chant for some counter-counter-protesting the next time the opportunity presents itself.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    John Horstman, good. It’ll give me a reason to dig out my counter-counter-counter-protest sign. Oddly, it says “America Needs a Change! *Vote* Mondale-Ferraro ’84”. I don’t care what the counter-counter-protesters say, Mondale’s due for a comeback.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @D. C. Sessions

    This new case already involves a free speech zone. (Or so says the OP.) And then it added on that you have to keep moving while in the free speech zone. So whatever complaints you have for free speech zones, add on something new.

  • Trebuchet

    Because I’ve seen examples in recent years of protesters being herded into enclosures and then arrested for failure to disperse. Just to pick one.

    The Seattle WTO “riots” come to mind. Protesters were blocked on all sides and ordered to disperse. Actual rioting was almost exclusively by the police.

  • jameshanley

    Coincidentally, I saw this yesterday morning, shortly before I showed my class a section from the Eyes on the Prize video series about the Civil Rights movement. And there was the police chief of Albany, Georgia, in 1963 telling protestors they couldn’t stop, but had to keep moving.

    The more things change…

  • Pierce R. Butler

    … protesters … have been corralled into assembly lines …

    What products did they make them assemble, and where did the cops get the conveyor belts?

  • John Pieret

    Modus @ 10:

    In the news today, President Mondale is still dead.

  • spamamander, internet amphibian

    @ 15

    That would make him a better president than pretty much any of the current GOP candidates.

  • dingojack

    John Pieret, spamamander – two minor problems with your posts above:

    A) Walter Mondale isn’t dead. {JP}

    B) He’s member of the Democratic Party. {Spam}

    Apart from that…

    😉 Dingo

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    dingojack “John Pieret, spamamander – two minor problems with your posts above:”

    I’m pretty sure he was making a reference even more out of date than mine.

  • John Pieret

    Modus:

    It’s good to know that I am not the only one slightly younger than dirt.

  • Pteryxx

    By the way, those protesters arrested for “failure to disperse” and similar BS charges generally have to pay bail to be freed. As of September 30, from rq in the Good Morning America thread:

    A note on the arrests: bail has now been set at the max of $1000, when before it was $150 – $300. As if the police were determined to deplete the resources of the protestors and their supporters.

    Donations to the protesters’ legal support fund can be made here. (via OrganizeMO)

    We provide Know Your Rights trainings, staff a 24-hour legal support hotline, track arrestees so they don’t get lost in the system, fundraise for legal support costs, bond people out of jail, connect defendants with pro bono attorneys, coordinate with attorneys, organize volunteers & support people who go to trial.

    And they’re still arresting protesters for “unlawful assembly” and “failure to obey” as of last night. Twitter link 1, 2

    Police just told the press to “obey the commands.” When she asked if the sidewalk was okay. Or will she be arrested.

  • Pteryxx

    (Same comment with only two links)

    By the way, those protesters arrested for “failure to disperse” and similar BS charges generally have to pay bail to be freed. As of September 30, from rq in the Good Morning America thread:

    A note on the arrests: bail has now been set at the max of $1000, when before it was $150 – $300. As if the police were determined to deplete the resources of the protestors and their supporters.

    Donations to the protesters’ legal support fund can be made here. (via OrganizeMO)

    We provide Know Your Rights trainings, staff a 24-hour legal support hotline, track arrestees so they don’t get lost in the system, fundraise for legal support costs, bond people out of jail, connect defendants with pro bono attorneys, coordinate with attorneys, organize volunteers & support people who go to trial.

    And they’re still arresting protesters for “unlawful assembly” and “failure to obey” as of last night. (see Good Morning America page 5 comment #30)

    Police just told the press to “obey the commands.” When she asked if the sidewalk was okay. Or will she be arrested.