East Grand Rapids Changes Ordinance as Result of Anti-war Protest

On Monday, March 19 the City of East Grand Rapids changed an ordinance that previously prohibited people from picketing in any residential area of that city. The Western Michigan branch of the ACLU looked into the legality of such an ordinance after they discovered that protestors were told they could not have a demonstration in a residential area of East Grand Rapids. The protest was held last fall near the house of GOP supporter Peter Secchia, who was hosting a political fundraiser that included Vice President Cheney. The demonstration was targeting Cheney’s ongoing support for the war in Iraq.

In December the ACLU sent the City of East Grand Rapids a letter that challenged the ordinance with the following statement:

A decision of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals concerning the validity of ordinances of this type is Vittitow v. City of Upper Arlington 43 F.3d 1100 (C.A.6, 1995). Under Vittitow the East Grand Rapids ordinance is unconstitutional and its application to the GOP event was a violation of the demonstrators’ constitutional rights. Individuals have a constitutional right to express their views in residential neighborhoods through demonstrations, picketing and other peaceful methods as long as they walk up and down through the block. This is especially true when a home in a residential area is used for a partisan political event attended by a national figure. After all, if residential privacy is a concern, an event of this type could be held elsewhere.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org