Tuesday, August 21, 2007

March On Washington September 15th

WaPo reports that ANSWER has sued the city over the city's attempts to make it difficult to publicize the September 15th march to end the war in Iraq.

An antiwar coalition filed court papers yesterday challenging D.C. laws that regulate posting signs in public places.

The court action comes one week after the D.C. Department of Public Works ordered the ANSWER Coalition to remove its signs pasted on electrical boxes around the city or face nearly $10,000 in fines. Public Works officials say the posters advertising a Sept. 15 antiwar march were improperly put up using an adhesive that makes the posters hard to remove.

The coalition asked a federal judge to stop the city from regulating signs posted on D.C. property until the city creates a "constitutionally allowable and non-discriminating system" for determining the rules on sign posting. The coalition alleges the city gives preferential treatment to signs for political candidates, commercial businesses and crime prevention, while bankrupting grass-roots campaigns with massive fines.

. . .

City law allows people and organizations to hang posters on lampposts as long as they can be easily removed and there are no more than three on one side of a block. Sign hangers must date the signs when they are posted and register two copies of the sign with the city.

Violations carry fines of $150 for each offending sign.

Coalition organizers said they use water-soluble paste to hang the signs and provide all people who hang signs with a copy of the rules. They argue that electrical boxes are equivalent to lampposts and that no individuals or groups should have to notify the government of their political opinions.
. . .

Yesterday morning the Alliance for Global Justice, a nonprofit organization that shares office space with the coalition, received two similar citations and potential fines from the city for the posters, said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice.

The National Park Service has also asked the coalition to remove signs on federal property or pay for their removal but has not set a deadline.

At a news conference yesterday, several coalition members and supporters said the large yellow and black signs were lawfully posted. They argued that D.C. laws need clarification and revision so that all who post signs are treated the same.

The fines have not stopped the coalition from plastering posters across the city. Coalition members said that as the march draws nearer, they plan to ramp up publicity with more posters, banners and stickers. Sarah Sloan, national staff organizer, said publicity of the fines has brought waves of support and volunteers to the coalition.

"We heard they were taking down posters on Connecticut and Wisconsin," she said, "and the next day there were people out there putting even more up. . . . They can't stop this."
More on the lawsuit, including a link to the complaint here.

Additionally, Code Pink has called for the DC government to rescind the fines it imposed on the ANSWER coalition for putting up posters advertising the September 15 anti-war rally. We view posters as one of the few low-cost ways of letting the DC community know about our rallies and this form of advertising should be protected as our free speech right. The $10,000 fine is meant to not only suppress ANSWER, but all grassroots organizations that don’t have large budgets to advertise through the mainstream media.

The posters around Washington DC let the public know about a march from the White House to the Capitol on Saturday, September 15 to stop the Iraq War and Impeach George Bush. This is something supported by the overwhelming majority of DC residents. Informing them about this march is actually a public service, and should be treated as such.

The ANSWER Coalition is right to refuse to remove the posters. Local regulations permit the posters, and such messages are supposed to be protected under free speech. Every community group, religious institution, union, and individual who values the right to assemble and speak out in public should join in protesting these fines and demand they be rescinded.

A list of nationwide transportation centers for those interested in coming to the march is available here.

Since the goverment is taking down the signs that publicize the antiwar march, please use your blog, LiveJournal, or MySpace page to publicize it. This is our last best chance to convince Congress to stop funding George Bush's war.

Update: NTodd's organizing the bloggers here.


Virginia said...


TrueMirage said...

business as usual. thanks for posting this info.