Youngstown city bureaucrats infringing on multiple Constitutional rights
As the grassroots effort to draw attention to the absurdity of the Supreme Court ruling rolls across the state in the form of open carry 'Defense' Walks, organizers have met with overwhelming support from the local governments. The Mayor of Gahanna made an appearance at the Columbus-area Walk, and Chief of Police Dennis Murphy was most helpful and supportive. In Lima, Allen County Sheriff Dan Beck helped plan the Walk route, and walked side-by-side with organizer Charlie Triplett. In Xenia, more of the same offered by public officials there. Organizers for next week's walks in Manchester, Swanton (Toledo-area), and Lorain (Cleveland-area) have all reported similarly.
And then there's Youngstown.
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For nearly three weeks now, organizer Rick Kaleda has tried day after day just to get Chief of Police Robert Bush on the telephone. The police department has repeatedly told Rick he needs to have a parade permit, and that until he gets one, the Chief will not take his call. Each time, Rick explained that the issue at hand was a bit more complicated than just a typical assembly (since it involved openly armed citizens), and that he thought he should talk to the Chief first. He also wondered aloud why they needed a permit for a few people to go for a Walk.
Kaleda has finally come across an ordinance which may shed some light on their obstruction, and which may also be subject to constitutional challenge. Apparently, once upon a time, the Youngstown City Council saw fit to approve an ordinance that requires a permit for any "assemblage" on a "public right of way" (that includes sidewalks, of course) to obtain a permit.
311.02 PARADES, ASSEMBLAGES, AND NEIGHBORHOOD BLOCK PARTIES
(a) No person, group of persons or organization shall conduct or participate in any parade, assemblage, procession or neighborhood block party, other than a funeral procession, upon any street or highway or other public right of way or block off any street or highway are or other public right of way, unless a permit has been obtained from the Traffic-Engineering Division of the Department of Public Works to conduct such parade, assemblage or or neighborhood block party. The concurrence of the Chief of Police must be secured.
Imagine: under this ordinance, any single person walking on a sidewalk with a sign could conceivably be ordered by Youngstown Police to cease her activity. So much for free speech. So much for the right to peaceably assemble. And so much for your right to go on an open carry 'Defense' Walk, right?
Not so fast, says Kaleda. Rick has notified us that he plans to jump through every last hoop they throw at him, if only to raise awareness about just how many Constitutionally-recognized rights Youngstown is managing to infringe upon at once.
Rick submitted his application today at approximately 1:00 p.m., requesting permission to Walk on Sunday, October 19. The denial came less than three hours later.
The person who issues permits explained on the application (but not to Rick when they spoke, and after he explained that he had been calling the Chief for three weeks), was that they need two weeks' notice.
Kaleda will be submitting a new application today, for Halloween weekend. No word yet if the children who assemble on public right of way in costume will need a permit as well.
Updates will be posted here on progress, and/or more bureaucratic obstruction.
UPDATE: Blink! Youngstown Walk permit approved October 22, 2003!
Click here to email Walk organizer Rick Kaleda about your interest in supporting this effort.
The Youngstown Chief of Police can be reached as follows:
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Youngstown Police Department
Chief Robert E Bush, Jr.
116 West Boardman St.
Youngstown, OH 44503
Voice: (330) 742-8900
Voice: (800) 837-2489
Fax: (330) 744-7452
E-mail: [email protected]
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