The police officer in this video makes it exceptionally clear that he was acting on the city attorney’s request:

The video also shows that the Protect My Vote people were respectful, polite and willing to obey the law. That speaks volumes about the character of the Protect My Vote movement.

This article shows that the Bloomington city attorney, Sandra Johnson, doesn’t respect the Constitution, specifically the First Amendment, the way that ordinary citizens respect the rule of law:

St. Paul – Although the Bloomington Police officers could not cite any statute or ordinance to justify their actions, they ordered the ProtectMyVote.com van to leave the City Hall parking lot, Thursday night.

The officer in charge, Sergeant Lewis said he was directed by the city attorney to remove ProtectMyVote.com personnel and supporters from city property and had no knowledge of any ordinance or statute to justify the action. He said he was representing the city attorney.

Earlier in the week, ProtectMyVote.com’s chairman, Dan McGrath took a phone call from the Bloomington city clerk, who explained that there was an active polling place for absentee balloting in City Hall. Knowing that state statute prohibits political signs within 100 feet of a polling place, McGrath assured her that the campaign would observe and respect the 100’ rule, even though the polling place and city hall would be closed by the time the campaign was scheduled to be there. The city clerk wasn’t satisfied. She went on to explain that the city of Bloomington didn’t want the ProtectMyVote.com campaign on city property at all, regardless of the polling place regulations.

McGrath wasn’t looking for a fight. “Not a problem. I’ll let the driver know and we’ll park near City Hall, off the grounds, instead,” he told her. McGrath thought that was the end of it.

First, the 100′ rule prevents electioneering, something the Founding Fathers would’ve frowned on. Second and more importantly, Bloomington’s city attorney, Sandra Johnson, should’ve known that she can’t limit free speech in the way she tried limiting it.

This email from Ms. Johnson bothers me, too:

Thank you for your cooperation. Nonetheless, police have been alerted to make certain that there is no illegal use of City property.

Dan McGrath had just verified that the Protect My Vote volunteer wouldn’t be on city-owned property:

I spoke with the city clerk already and agreed to keep the vehicle off city
property. This email seems like a bit of an overreaction. Surely you (and the mayor and the city council and the chief of police) have better things to do with your time.

Some of your legal rationale doesn’t hold water, but as I said, we aren’t going to be on your precious blacktop, so that’s irrelevant.

The strongest argument against Ms. Johnson comes from the first email she sent to Mr. McGrath:

The dedicated purpose of the Civic Plaza parking lots is to serve
the parking needs of the employees and members of the public using the facility. Any private use of the property that interferes with that purpose can be prohibited.

Based on this description of the facility, the parking lots are used for many things, including, but not limited to, “the parking needs of the employees and members of the public using the facility.” Ms. Johnson’s email indicates that activities that don’t interfere with the theatre’s parking shouldn’t be prohibited.

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5 Responses to “Bloomington City Attorney waging anti-First Amendent fight”

  • eric z says:

    Gary, I know from your sense of fairness you would show equal outrage over an eviction of Occupy people. As you did in the past.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Eric, There’s no such thing as acceptable censorship, at least in the United States.

  • Gene Christensen says:

    No censorship in the USA as in the three times you’ve kicked me and my family members off your Facebook website because my agruments against Voter ID so far outweigh your arguments for.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Quit with the lying. I haven’t kicked anyone off Facebook in years. Frankly, I don’t pay much attention to Facebook. I pay much more attention to Twitter.

    As for this myth that your arguments against Photo ID outweighing my arguments for it, they’re as credible as your lie about me kicking you off Facebook.

  • walter hanson says:

    Eric:

    Um the Occupy people for example were allowed to occupy when they shouldn’t be in places. Hennepin County allowed them to be there without a permit or paying for it.

    In Virginia Occupy didn’t have to pay for their protests while the tea party was charged.

    I can go on, but apparently if you think that Occuppy can be anywhere without paying money and ignore laws than you should be shouting that Bloomington acted in error.

    By the way if you didn’t read Gary’s post which you didn’t read the group was trying to be as accomdating to Bloomington, but Bloomington overreacted when the law wasn’t on their side.

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

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