Monday, April 24, 2006

Utah Settles a Lawsuit Filed by Two Animal-Rights Activists Who Said a Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Prevented Them from Handing Out Political Leaflets

I think this case represents a lot. One, it proves that many times activists are illegally harassed by police while simply exercising their first amendment rights on public property.

Two, it really shows the importance of not backing down to police or any other group that attempts to squash your message because they don’t’ like it. These guys took it all the way to court and won. A lesson for us all, no matter what the message is.

Article:

Utah settles lawsuit by animal-rights activists

http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=16799

By The Associated Press
04.21.06

SALT LAKE CITY — The state has settled a lawsuit filed by two Utah animal-rights activists who said a Utah Highway Patrol trooper prevented them from handing out political leaflets on the Capitol grounds during this year's legislative session.

In its settlement filed on April 17, the state agreed to pay Eric Waters and David Berg, both of the Utah Animal Rights Coalition, $1,000 each and their attorney Brian Barnard $10,000 in legal fees. The state also agreed to pay UARC $500.

Waters and Berg contended their First Amendment rights were violated when Trooper Preston Raban told them to stop handing out leaflets.

The two said Raban told them that handing fliers to anyone except a person who asked for one was against state law and considered soliciting. The lawsuit also contended Raban threatened to arrest them.

The Utah attorney general's office acknowledged Waters and Berg "have the legal right to engage in the free expression activity of tendering political leaflets, fliers, buttons or similar materials on the grounds and in public areas of the Utah State Capitol and related buildings."

The leaflets opposed bills to lower ages for hunting licenses. UARC contended that would increase the number of hunting accidents in Utah.

3 comments:

David Berg said...

The settlement was actually only $100 each, for Eric & I. Money is always nice, but the point was to preserve free speech. Another lesson from this is to try to always have at least one video camera on hand & to document every instance of misguided cops, etc. trying to trample your rights and then put it to good use! It's the only way we can get them to stop.
David Berg

Here's the video we shot of what happened. The cop was trying to be sneaky and get rid of us without making a threat that could be used in court so beware of that kind of trick.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=52Eoskjaq6I

And the follow up:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=VoBFgPfU1wk

David Berg said...

The settlement was actually only $100 each, for Eric & I. Money is always nice, but the point was to preserve free speech. Another lesson from this is to try to always have at least one video camera on hand & to document every instance of misguided cops, etc. trying to trample your rights and then put it to good use! It's the only way we can get them to stop.
David Berg

Here's the video we shot of what happened. The cop was trying to be sneaky and get rid of us without making a threat that could be used in court so beware of that kind of trick.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=52Eoskjaq6I

And the follow up:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=VoBFgPfU1wk

GEARI.ORG said...

Thank you for following up on this story. Keep up the good work!

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