1
Aug
2004

FREE SPEECH ?

FREE SPEECH IN LONG BEACH?

UPDATE ON THE LBAPN LAW SUIT

(excerpt)

Small Claims Court Judge Leon Emerson ruled against five Long Beach peace activists, ordering them to pay $1108.20 each for organizing the Rallies and March protesting war on Iraq. March 22, 2003, thousands marched along the streets of Long Beach while Bush was bombing Baghdad. The City claimed its costs were $7041. Judge Emerson found the $1500 charges for use of the beach not adequately "justified" and reduced the total to $5541.00. He ruled that each of the defendants (John Beacham, Sharon Cotrell, Diana Mann, Kathy Pliska, and Eugene Ruyle) is individually responsible for a pro-rated share.

Judge Emerson did not discuss the chilling effect his decision will have on free speech in Long Beach which was argued by the defendants and many other community activists who testified before him. The defendants will appeal this decision and LBAPN will ask the City Council to take steps to protect free speech in Long Beach. As defendant Eugene Ruyle, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at CSULB and Chair of LBAPN at the time of the rally stated, "The import of this issue goes far beyond the five of us." Los Angeles attorney Carol Sobel is filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of LBAPN. Sobel, a national expert in free speech law and Chair of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, successfully represented LBAPN and other community activists in an earlier case when Long Beach tried to charge prohibitive fees for a July 4th celebration and protest of sky-rocketing energy costs.

LBAPN is also asking all our supporters to write or call City officials to express their concerns about the First Amendment implications of this case. We will be calling meetings to plan a campaign and to pursue this issue.

District 1: Bonnie Lowenthal (562) 570-6919 district1@longbeach.gov
District 2: Dan Baker (562) 570-6684: baker@ci.long-beach.ca.us
District 3: Frank Colonna (Vice Mayor) (562) 570-6310
district3@longbeach.gov
District 4: Patrick O'Donnell (562) 570-6918 district4@longbeach.gov
District 4: Jackie Kell (562) 570-6932 kell@longbeach.gov
District 6: Laura Richardson (562) 570-6816
district6@ci.long-beach.ca.us
District 7: Tonia Reyes Uranga (562) 570-6139
district7@ci.long-beach.ca.us
District 8: Rae Gabelich (562) 570-6685 district8@longbeach.gov
District 9: Val Lerch (562) 570-6137 district9@ci.long-beach.ca.us
Mayor: Beverly O'Neill (562) 570-6801 mayor@longbeach.gov
City Attorney: Robert E. Shannon 562-570-2200 cityattorney@longbeach.gov


Informant: Annie
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