More Harassment of Petitioners

If you’re petitioning for small goverment issues, just expect to be harassed. Not only did the police try to intimidate petition gatherers for Loretta Nall in Alabama, the lovers of big government are trying a variety of different tactics against Americans for Limited Government petitioners across the country. Here’s the scoop from National Review:

Across the country, lawsuits “” frivolous, time-sucking, and money-wasting “” are all the rage among the democracy-blocking set. In Maine, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Missouri, our partner groups have gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures “” and they’ve also been slapped with legal challenges based on little more than language technicalities.

Lawsuits, however, are just the beginning. A showdown is brewing in Nevada, where the AFL-CIO and state teachers unions have put some muscle behind an intimidation campaign against the Tax and Spending Control campaign. Reportedly paid by the hour, these “blockers” physically surrounded petitioners while shouting, screaming, and chasing away potential signers. The situation escalated last week, with petitioners reduced to pleading for a restraining order from a Nevada judge, who promptly ordered preschool-style rules “” “no touching, no yelling” “” to return order to the streets.

“Say you’re an elderly woman and you want to sign a petition “” you don’t have a chance,” says Bob Adney, who is leading the spending-cap campaign. “And if you’re a guy who’s 6’4” and 300 pounds, quite frankly, you might not have a chance either. These guys are surrounding petitioners eight to one at times, and they’re not pulling punches.”

What happens in Vegas, alas, doesn’t always stay there. Our partners in Missouri, Montana, Michigan, and Oklahoma have faced similar intimidation tactics, often at the hands of local unions and, in particular, public-education unions. The goal is often to get petitioners kicked out of malls and other high-traffic areas, or even arrested “” which is an interesting civics lesson indeed.

I guess it’s okay to petition for redress of grievances only if powerful special interest groups, which includes the government, agree with your message.

posted by Stephen Gordon
  • paulie

    How about some phony/phunny unions?

    For example, the California Community College Professors (CCCP)

    or

    Nebraska Sheriffs Deputies Against Petitioning (NSDAP)

    is also good….

    seriously, there’s nothing funny about blockers. btw – you are paying for them, through taxes.

    Government-corporate collusion is also great; for example, DMVs in Omaha are leasing buildings from a “private” real estate company, which thus “owns” government buildings, according to them.

  • paulie
  • http://www.phillies2008.org George Phillies

    Videocameras, with telescopic lenses, at a distance to get photos of these people. In a public place, you can be photographed.

    And videos showing the miscreants. Ads seeking identification for future litigation or cirminal prosecution

  • http://swmolibertarianparty.blogspot.com Keith Rodgers

    Unions? Using thuggery?? I’m speechless! Why, the very idea…

  • http://www.libertyforsale.com Timothy West

    Then you make video ads with the result of the cameras and release it the the media. George got it down.

  • Devious David

    The media would never show such a thing. The media isn’t willing to cover anything that interests us. If any coverage did occur, the “blockers” would be hailed as heroes in the reporting.

  • ianbernard
  • http://www.libertyforsale.com Timothy West

    the media love conflict. Give them a tape that shows union thugs beefing with these people, and that will be the lead story on a slow news day in most local news markets.

  • http://www.ongforcuregent.com Daniel Ong

    Colorado has a “bubble law” (C.R.S. 18-9-122) requiring people be left alone entering or leaving health care facilities (including abortion clinics) unless they consent to being approached. Maybe such a law can be enacted or applied to those exercising their First Amendment Right to petition the Government.

    Similar laws might apply to crossing picket lines, entering military recruiting offices, participating in Columbus Day parades, or aggressively panhandling. The legal issue is when expression of freedom of speech degenerates into intimidation. Physical separation is often the remedy, as physical proximity is generally the means of intimidation.

    State spending limits can be highly effective–so much so that our formerly conservative Governor Owens led the charge last year to eviscerate our TABOR: Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

  • http://spaces.msn.com/libertynow/ Len

    The media would never show such a thing. – DD

    That’s why we need our own media distribution methods. Once our foot is in the door, the MSM won’t be able to ignore us anymore.

  • http://www.phillies2008.org George Phillies

    The media would never…
    Spare us the paranoia.
    There are a lot of media, with different views.
    There are a lot of people interested in stories.

    Tapes work fine in courtrooms.

    Also, if you are a candidate, they work just fine in advertisements, which under Federal law the media must broadcast.

  • john

    they want you to be relagated to the outer redress zone (orz). Now orz like a good little mook and just be glad that you live in the freest country in the world

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  • http://www.nwmeridian.com Wes Wagner

    We have had a petition in Oregon for a spending limit – it probably won’t be long before these tactics spread here.

  • http://www.nwmeridian.com Wes Wagner

    Len,

    I have been running a libertarian newspaper in Portland Oregon, but I have not received much support from either the libertarians or the business community. It is extremely difficult to run independent media without any support.

    Wes Wagner
    NW Meridian

  • http://UnCivilDefence.blogspot.com MRJarrell

    Let’s see now…Nevada law states:
    “State law does not prohibit the open carrying of a firearm, but one should exercise caution when carrying a firearm in public.”
    Maine:”It is not unlawful to carry a firearm openly.”
    Oklahoma has no good law, but if they dress in period costume they can open carry period pieces. A brace of pistols or a musket work just fine to curb intimidation.
    Big dogs can work, too…as can 2×4’s and baseball bats.
    How many government school indoctrinators do you think will return a 2nd day after having the tables turned? The only thing the meek inherit is a 6x6x3 plot.

  • Paul Pace

    Escalation. You start dressing as a whig and carrying a musket, they’ll start dressing in zoot suits and carrying tommy guns.

  • Andy

    I’m in Nebraska right now working on the petition drive to put the Stop State Overspending initiative on the ballot. I’ve been harrassed by blockers and threatened with arrest by police. Last week the DMV banned petitioners (yes, that’s right, the Department of Motor Vehicles) and I was harrassed over the weekend by a security gaurd at a festival in a public park.

    Harrassment of petitioners is a big problem in this country of which most people are not even aware. I’ve been involved in petitioning for 6 years and my rights have been violated on numerous occassions. When people are prevented from gathering signatures on petitions their first amendment rights are being violated and the rights of the voters in general are being violated because that harrassment can prevent a candidate or initiative or referendum or recall from appearing on the ballot.

    There ought to be a National Right To Petition Association which would be similiar to the ACLU but for petition related

  • Andy

    law suits only. If everyone around the country who is involved in petitioning pooled their resources together in a National Right To Petition Association there’d be enough money to file multiple law suits and we’d be able to fight against this kind of abuse. Anyone with me on this?

  • Michael H. Wilson

    Wes Wagner writes: “We have had a petition in Oregon for a spending limit – it probably won’t be long before these tactics spread here.”

    Wes I think it has already spread to the NW. I could be wrong, but I recall the name Patty Wentz as being someone involved with this activity. There was some of this two years ago if my recall is correct. Ted Piccolo (sp) aka Coyote, is talking about this on his blog NW Republicans.

    Years ago in Oregon they had members of a local motor cycle club on hand to offer support for anyone in the LPO in the event they were intimidated. But the LPO goofed by not supporting repeal of the helmet laws and lost contact with the group.

    Solution is to get a bigger stick.
    M.H.W.

  • http://www.ongforcuregent.com Daniel Ong

    From some of the main forces behind Colorado’s original “toughest in the nation” spending limit, TABOR–the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, now comes the Petition Rights Amendment initiative, on the Colorado ballot this fall. This doesn’t deal with the immediate problem of harassment described here, but deals with other legal problems with petitioning.

    See also the Initiative and Referendum Institute at USC.

  • nameless

    build on the video idea. get your most annoying petitioner, let them surround him, provoke to the point of fisticuffs (or just a shove – the point beng any physical contact in a provacative manner), leak the video, instant restraining order.

  • blowmedown

    Video, but not for pubic broadcast. Identify the teachers, administrators, etc. and their schools, then screen the damn thing at the next public gathering in that town. “You want an animal lik ethis teaching your kids, folks?”, etc. You probably won’t be able to identify a very high percentage, but if word got around, a few would do.

    I’ve been amazed for some time that small government avocates who still believe that participation in the current system is ethical haven’t attempted to use RICO to go after the teachers’ unions. All that money, all that power and ego – no way there aren’t major improprieties. And there is always an (overly) ambitious prosecutor who will lend a symathetic ear to a scheme to win fame and power. Is that getting down in the mire? Sure, but ain’tcha already more than halfway there?

    -BM

  • http://www.nwrepublican.blogspot.com Coyrote

    Oregon is where these sordid thug tactics got their start. It began back in 2001 with the “Voter Integrity Project.” Although I used to call them the “Voter Elimination Project.”

    They used to hand out these little flyers that said “think before you ink,” and wear read t-shirst with yellow letters.

    There may be some old stories catalogued on http://www.oregontermlimits.org.

    yip yip