Libertarians Won, Government Zero

…at least for the moment.

I don’t have the correct type of USB cable with me (not at home right now and it is a funky connection — we’ve got video, too) to upload to pictures, but I’ll get them uploaded when I can. The bottom line is that we just stood down the police. After the cops harassed one of our petitioners for collecting signatures (“trespassing”) on public sidewalks, we took the whole Birmingham team to the same corner to see what the hell was going on.

We called the watch officer of the UAB police and after being placed on hold for a long period of time, we told them we were on the corner and going to continue collecting signatures until they showed us some law which said we couldn’t. Sure enough, three officers showed up a half hour later and told us we’d have to leave. I got the name of two of the officers; the third stayed in the back seat of the patrol car. When I tried to walk close enough to the car to read his name tag, I was ordered to stand back.

CPL T. Coley told us we’d have to leave. When I asked what law we were violating, he seemed very perplexed. Then he said we were trespassing. We asked how we could be trespassing if we were on a public sidewalk on an open campus in the middle of downtown Birmingham. I asked again for them to cite what law we supposedly were violating so we could work together to find a reasonable solution to the problem. He simply restated his claim that we were trespassing on state property. I remember asking again how we could be trespassing on a public sidewalk on an open campus in the middle of downtown Birmingham. His eyes indicated that he didn’t even follow the logic of my question.

Around this time, Officer K. Woods [?] stepped out of the car and joined in the conversation. After explaining what we were doing, he initally told us that we can’t collect signatures because it is harrassing passersby (he didn’t use the word “passersby”; he did say something that sounded like “passerbys”, though) on private property. At this point John Slevin, the ballot access team leader, asked the officer where we can collect signatures. He was told to collect them in the middle of the relatively high traffic street. At this point Slevin brazenly walked over to the closest pedestrian and obtained her signature.

He continued to collect signatures while I spoke with the officers. One of them finally told me that we could collect them on a sidewalk across the street. I said there were no people over there; it would defeat the purpose. I asked what the difference between the two sidewalks was. He said the one we were at was state property. I pointed out to him that the other one was state property, too. At this point, he looked at Slevin (who was collecting another sig) and said he can’t do that. I said that we intend to continue to collect signatures until the police show us some law that we are violating.

I finally asked one more time what the difference between the respective sidewalks was. He never answered. I gave him a defiant look and just walked off. They hopped in their car and drove off. We collected signatures for another half hour or so on that corner, and at least two cops passed by, but didn’t harass us any more.

We stood our ground (and were all willing to risk arrest for this one), but I figure the incident cost us a thousand or so dollars in manpower.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. Tentatively — congratulations, gentlemen. Seriously; civil disobedience at its finest. :)

  2. Don’t you know you’re only allowed to collect signatures inside the designated Free Speech / Ballot Access pen?

    I’m starting to wonder when the crack-down on us unruly folks is finally going to come. Hell, already we’re dancing on the line of totalitarianism as it is.

  3. It’s like they assume you’re guilty until proven innocent. They probably just don’t like voter choice.

    Glad you stood them down; if the incident cost you money you might be able to sue the Birmingham police for damages.

  4. Agh, forgot to add, maybe next time you should bring a camera, since publicity seems to be the government’s number one fear.

  5. Thank goodness no one was arrested. When I first got wind of this I was still @ work. I’m relieved (checking this from home) that the police exercised a tad bit of common sense. What will this mean for collecting signatures @ Do-dah day?

  6. Paul — we have some video and lot’s of pics. Just have to go buy a non-standard USB cable to download them.

  7. Bryan,

    We’ll be at the parade and the event tomorrow. Just finished getting stuff the decorate the ‘stang. Please help spread the word that we’ll need dog water dishes and if anyone wants to donate a big box of milk bones.

  8. The deal is that they were UAB cops. Having lived there I can confirm they are even more stupid than “normal cops”.

  9. Tim,

    Campus cops are notoriously of lower intelligence and common sense than regular PD. Where I went to school, at University of Arizona in Tucson, it was well known that the people who couldn’t pass the Tucson PD entrance tests ended up as U of A cops.


  10. I put $100 in to the campaign when I read the first post.
    Good to see you putting my money to work so fast :-)

  11. Boy, this entry got my blood boiling. Good for you guys! I only wish Ms. Nall would re-do her web site. I think a more professional (and less verbose) site would inspire more confidence in would-be voters and donors.

    Keep up the good fight!

  12. UA,

    Right now there is no time on the website (unless someone wants to volunteer). Once this very major ballot access hurdle has been past, we can concentrate on the site.

  13. Rob D.: (OT on the LP redesign)

    Lookin good, but the Action Items has got to go, at least in that form. Activists are getting very accustomed to Action Items sections being like where some hot political topic is up and a convenient way to contact legislators or the proper folks is provided, often with a form email (when that is an option) and all. Those LP Action Items right now are very much Static Items.

  14. I suppose the many times I was asked to sign a petition to get a Nazi (Republican) or a Communist (Democrat) on an election ballot meant that I was one of those “harassed passerbys”. ROFLMAO.

    Thats funny- “passerbys”. ROFLMAO!

    BTW I didnt sign those petitions….

    I’ll be “passerbying” here later….

  15. Understood, Mr. Gordon. Prioritizing is important. Without ballot access, all is for naught. But, for example, whoever redid Mr. Phillies’ web site could be contracted to redo Ms. Nall’s. And in my humble opinion, she would do well to reduce the amount of verbiage contained on her site. Or at least, have condensed versions of what’s there now, with a link to more. It’s just too much to digest. Sorry for being the perpetual critic. I really do wish Ms. Nall all of the best!

  16. UA — it’s about money right not. We’ve got great lists but not enough effective telephone fundraisers. Every dollar has to go into raising money or getting sigs right now.

  17. UA:

    I’m probably the key figure who got George and Seth together, so I understand the importance. Just no time at the moment. We are all going so fast that we don’t even have time for copy editing (something else we could all use).

  18. Congrats guys, well done. I learned the hard way once, but never again. Always, always bring a camera, it doesn’t hurt to have a “third person” camera out of view as well. So in case your main camera is neutralized you have someone filming from a slight distance to capture what happens next.

    My two cents worth.


  19. Yeah, don’t know how I missed that in the first paragraph. My reading comprehension must suck.