If your first amendment rights are important to you, you should start watching the Tucson City Council agendas very closely.
Embarrassed by the Safe Park quagmire and the subsequent scolding by the district court judge, City Attorney Mike Rankin wants to crack down … on them and on us.
Thanks to a tip and a Facebook event invite from local activists, I learned about two bad ordinances that were scheduled for tomorrow’s City Council meeting. (See items #13 and #14 on the agenda here.)
Ordiance Prohibiting Camping or City Sidewalks and Other City Property (PDF) seeks to prevent another Safe Park or Occupy Tucson from happening. The memo clearly states that “homelessness is not a crime, and only the conduct of camping, and not the state of homelessness, is prohibited by the Code.” So, where are the homeless supposed to go when there aren’t enough beds in shelters? Are they supposed to camp or sleep on private property– like one of those cute front yards in Armory Park?
Ordinance Providing for the Designation of a “Crowd Management Event” for the Purpose of Maintaining Public Safety (PDF) gives the Tucson police chief sweeping crowd control measures. The ordinance defines a “Crowd Management Event” as “a gathering of 100 or more persons that requires the provision of law enforcement services”; allows the chief to set geographic boundaries for the “Crowd Management Event”; prohibits people from entering or leaving the designated “crowd management” area; prohibits people inside the area from wearing masks or protective gear, like a gas mask. (Hmmm… just like shooting fish in a barrel with that pepper spray. What could go wrong?)
By early this morning, the Facebook protest event against the “Crowd Management Event” ordinance had close to 100 attendees who said they would protest at the Ronstadt Center beginning at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 16 (today).
Less than one hour before the protest, the Tucson Sentinel posted a story saying that the “Crowd Management Event” ordinance had been pulled from the March 17 meeting agenda, but the urban camping ban is still a go. The Sentinel quotes a memo from Rankin stating that the item was pulled for now but could reappear in the future. Pay attention.