In response, members of the International Woman's Day March and Rally Committee and the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition filed a lawsuit against the City challenging this ordinance and organizing against it.
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Members of the International Woman's Day March Committee and the
San Antonio Free Speech Coalition travelled to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans April 27th
to defend our right to march in the public streets. Please donate to help cover costs incurred for lodging and transportation. call 210.228.0201 to make a donation
Las Calles No Se Callan! Our Streets Will Not Be Silenced!
Fifth Circuit Decision: Important Meeting of the Int'l Woman's Day March
and the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition: Wed, Sept 15, 2010, 6-8pm
posted September 12, 2010
The Fifth Circuit panel has issued an opinion on our appeal and we have only a few days to decide our next steps. The Fifth Circuit panel rejected the City’s “government speech” argument – this is the good news. The bad news is that the panel nevertheless affirmed the District Court’s order dismissing our claims. Download a copy of the panel’s decision HERE. Please read the opinion if you have the time, but even if you can’t, please attend this crucial meeting on Wednesday September 15, 2010 at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, 922 San Pedro.
Oral Argument in the U.S. Court of Appeals Set for April 27, 2010
posted April 17, 2010 (originally published in April 2010 issue of La Voz)
On March 6, thousands marched in solidarity with women whose lives and bodies are torn apart by weapons used to conquer the globe for predatory capitalism; with Hyatt housekeepers fighting for the livable wage we all were promised; with victims of official, domestic, and other misogynist violence; with children robbed of their education by the greed of bankers, developers, media conglomerates, global corporations, and the politicians who serve them; with lesbian and trans-women raped and tortured for the slights to patriarchy refracted in the minds of their attackers; and with women en la lucha throughout the world.
Information for Organizers Regarding S.A. Parade Permit Applications
posted February 09, 2009
The San Antonio Police Department may not legally require you to rent traffice control devices or to pay for police officers. Please do not let the SAPD bully you into paying or into cancelling your event because you don't have the money! Click to download an information sheet for Organizers regarding S.A. Parade Permit Applications.
Update on Recusal
posted Jan 30, 2009
On January 15, 2009, both sides appeared before Judge Xavier Rodriguez for a Pre-Trial Conference, a standard meeting to discuss matters in preparation for the trial that was set for 11 days later, January 26th. Six days before the Pretrial Conference, the City finally gave us copies of the Parade Permit Applications that had been filed during 2008, which we had been asking for months before. In those documents, we discovered that the Police Department had received at least two “decisions” from the City Attorney’s office regarding whether particular Applications were for “First Amendment Processions” under the Parade Ordinance (we believe that all marches/processions/parades are protected by the First Amendment, but the city says it can decide which ones are protected). The Assistant City Attorney who had given the Police department these decisions was Veronica Zertuche, so we added her name to the witness list that was submitted to the Judge.
To our great surprise, Judge Rodriguez’s opening words on January 15th were that he believed he would have to recuse himself from the case. Normally, a judge must recuse himself (step away from the case and assign it to a different judge) if s/he has a financial interest in one of the parties (as if a judge owns stock in a company that is one of the parties) or if one of the parties or a witness is a close family member (generally viewed as parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, siblings, cousins, or neice/nephew).
Judge Rodriguez explained that Assistant City Attorney Veronica Zertuche, was his next-door neighbor as they were growing up, and their families remained close friends. “She is like my cousin,” he explained. He acknowledged that the Rules did not require him to recuse himself but said he was worried “about how it might appear to the community,” and “to the press.” He explained that he was concerned that “it might appear inappropriate for me to decide this case.” With that, Judge Rodriguez cancelled the January 26th trial date, said goodbye, and closed the hearing. The next day we received notice that the case would now be heard by Judge Fred Biery. So now we have to wait until Judge Biery sets a new trial date.
The City of San Antonio and SAPD
created the Standard Operating Procedures for Marches and Parades, and has filed to lift the Injuction granted by Judge Rodriguez! The operating procedures continue to give SAPD complete discretion over who can march and continues to charge us for our Free Speech!!
We will ask Judge Rodriguez to continue the injunction, arguing that the high fees constitute an insurmountable bar to freedom of speech and assembly, that the frequent waivers constitute unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, and that the Parade Ordinance is unconstitutionally vague in its definition of “First Amendment Processions” and “Non-First Amendment Processions.”
This is an important struggle. We must preserve our right to march in the streets! We must protect the public right to open political debate! Join us! Come to Free Speech Coalition Meetings the 2nd Tuesday of every month at the Esperanza! Write letters to the editor or Op-Ed pieces! Contribute money to the Coalition for litigation expenses! Call 210.228.0201 to get involved! The case will go to trial on November 17, 2008!*
*UPDATE: Trial Date has been rescheduled for January 26, 2009)
Results of Hearing on Request for Injunction
The International Woman’s Day March & Rally Committee and the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition, a coalition of over 250 individuals and organizations (click here for a list) asked Judge Rodríguez to bar the City from enforcing its new parade ordinance, enacted on November 29, 2007 by the City Council, over courageous opposition by Councilwomen Lourdes Galvan and Mary Alice Cisneros. In casting her vote against the ordinance, Councilwoman Galvan said “I have heard the testimony of community activists … and in honor of Emma Tenayuca, I will vote against this ordinance.”
Since spring of this year, a community coalition has worked with the City to give feedback on the new ordinance. While many positive changes to the previous version of the ordinance were made, what passed at City Council remains a blatant violation of free speech. The ordinance threatens community marches by requiring groups to pay for the cost of traffic barriers, police officers, and clean-up for their events, which can amount up to $15,000 or more. In addition, some groups are given exemptions from those costs while others are still required to pay. Such exemptions create the potential for viewpoint discrimination—that is, groups may be exempted from cost based on the political content of their event.
In passing this ordinance, the Mayor and City Council have demonstrated that they do not respect the sanctity of our Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court and courts in numerous top-tier cities, including cities in Georgia and Pennsylvania, have repeatedly ruled it unconstitutional for the government to impose such high fees that people are in effect precluded from using the public streets for marches and other such events. Although the ordinance passed says that the City will pay for the first $3000 of any “First Amendment Activities” on the streets, the remaining costs could still easily prevent free speech marches from occurring.
Even if it is permissible to charge groups the actual cost of using the streets for a march or parade, courts have clearly held that the First Amendment requires “viewpoint neutrality.” That is, if the government decides to waive costs for some marches or parades, it must do so for all, without regard to the views expressed by the event or the event organizers. Thus, it is unconstitutional for the City to subsidize some parades or marches and not others, as the ordinance passed does.
In response, members of the International Woman’s Day March and Rally Committee and the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition marched to the Federal Courthouse immediately following the City Council vote to file a lawsuit challenging this ordinance. Our first hearing on Thursday, December 20th will either grant or deny an injunction that would prvent the City from enforcing or publicizing the ordinance until the lawsuit has been closed.
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