Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recall Suppression: Racine County Sheriff Violating Citizen's Rights

Je suis choqué! Choqué que je dis!

We're shocked it took 3 whole days for "The Man" to look for ways to suppress and intimidate citizens pursuing a recall. Racine County Sheriff's chased off recall volunteers legally standing on public property at Pritchard Park collecting recall signatures telling them they needed a permit to be there.

Recall volunteers were told on Friday by County Sheriff's they needed to exit the park immediately because they did not possess a park permit and the Sheriff waited until their cars left the park.

A permit? Racine County requires a permit to camp or reserve a pavilion not to circulate a petition - and if they did - it would be unconstitutional.

Recall volunteers are allowed by Wisconsin State Statute to gather recall signatures on public property which is a constitutionally protected activity. Individuals obtaining signatures and circulating petitions seeking to recall elected officials are engaged in activity protected by Article XIII Section 12 and Article I Sections 3 and 4:

Article XIII, §12
   Recall of elective officers. Section 12. [As created Nov. 1926 and amended April 1981] The qualified electors of the state, of any congressional, judicial or legislative district or of any county may petition for the recall of any incumbent elective officer after the first year of the term for which the incumbent was elected, by filing a petition with the filing officer with whom the nomination petition to the office in the primary is filed, demanding the recall of the incumbent.

Article I, §3
   Free speech; libel. Section 3. Every person may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right, and no laws shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press. 

Article I, §4
   Right to assemble and petition. Section 4. The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.

Oh - and if that isn't good enough, there is always the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Both prohibit interference with the circulation of recall petitions.

Petition circulation is not solicitation and may be done in any public place. It is not any form of solicitation of sales activity. The law protects this activity in any public place, including public buildings and lands (subject to exceptions for areas to which free public access is generally denied).

Petition circulation may not be limited by date, time, or permitting or licensure requirements which means that saying the public (who owns that park) needs a permits from Jim Ladwig is illegal, unconstitutional and a lie.

Anyone who is subject to or witnesses interference with the rights to circulate petitions and seek signatures from members or the public (and the Sheriff's Department) or infringes on the rights of the public to sign such petitions should immediately contact the Recall Field Office...which is exactly what they did.

Wanna know what happened? The Sheriff's Office didn't call back. They were called again, and they didn't call back. Messages and phone numbers were left on voice-mails out in Ives Grove and no one responded.

Luckily for those angry residents, the right people heard the story and the Sheriff's Department can expect to get some calls from out of town they won't be able to ignore on Monday morning.