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Letter to appropriate officials concerning speech in the public forum (in Dinkeytown) by OPBC

Jerald C. Finney
Mail: P.O. Box 1346 ; Austin TX 78767
Office : 700 Lavaca, Suite 1400, Austin TX
Phone (512) 785-8445 (C) ; 512-808-5529 (O) ; 512-385-0761 (H)
E-MAIL: jerald.finney@sbcglobal.net
Website : « Separation of Church and State Law » (jeraldfinney.wordpress.com)

10/30/2015

E-Mail to the following:

David Wilske
Patrol Lieutenant for the University of Minnesota Police Department
511 Washington Ave. SE
Suite No. 1
Minneapolis MN 55455
wilsk001@umn.edu

Cc:

Janeé Harteau
Chief of Police
350 South 5 th Street
Room 130
Minneapolis, MN 55415-1389
612-673-3559
Fax: 612-673-2613
E-mail: police@minneapolismn.gov

Inspector Katherine Waite
Commander of the 2nd Precinct
1911 Central Avenue N.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55418
(612) 673-5702
Fax (612) 370-3885
police@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

Mayor Betsy Hodges
350 S. 5th St., Room 331
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Phone: (612) 673-2100

City Attorney (Called but the answerer could not give me the name of the city attorney-gave me the e-mail address below)
City Hall, Room 210
350 S. 5th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55415
(612) 673-2010
policereview@minneapolismn.gov

Ward 2 – Cam Gordon
350 S. 5th St., Room 307
Minneapolis, MN 55415
(612) 673-2202
cam.gordon@minneapolismn.gov

RE:  Advance notice concerning protected speech within the jurisdiction of UMPD by the men of the OPBC Street Preaching Ministry in a sincere effort to avoid the need for federal civil rights lawsuit.

Dear Lieutenant Wilske:

I am writing this letter as a member of Old Paths Baptist Church (“”OPBC”) in Northfield Minnesota. I am in the process of moving to Faribault, Minnesota from Austin Texas where I practice law.

You and I have talked about this matter. As you know, I am addressing this matter in advance to avoid the eventuality that your peace officers have not been properly educated in dealing with situations where citizens are exercising their right to freedom of speech as guaranteed by the United States Constitution, the Constitution of the State of Minnesota, and by the Minneapolis Charter and City Ordinances. You may have already educated your peace officers since our discussions began; but, as I have pointed out and provided to you the link to the online video of the incident, at least one of your officers has violated the civil rights of the peaceful speech activities of the men of OPBC street preaching ministry.

Some members of OPBC will, from time to time, be exercising their First Amendment speech rights in Dinkeytown, as they have done in the past. In their past activity, the police officer did not understand the law and therefore violated the rights of the street preachers. As I have pointed out to you, the federal courts, all the way to the top, have for a long time laid out the law in these matters. Now, a case which is precisely on point was just handed down by the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. You can go to the following article for all the details of concerning this matter, including a link to the video of the offending officer in action, as well as a link to the opinion in the October 28, 2015 Sixth Circuit case.

On October 28, 2015, the U.S. Sixth Circuit restated and strengthened First Amendment protection of speech in the public forum in a case where “Bible Believers” involved in street preaching to Muslims displayed a pigs head, amongst other direct speech. The Sixth Circuit stressed that the First Amendment “envelops all manner of speech, even when that speech is loathsome in its intolerance, designed to cause offense, and, as a result of such offense, arouses violent retaliation.” Attorney Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, who argued the case on behalf of the Bible Believers, applauded the decision, saying it was  “solidly on the side of free speech.” “If this went the other way, it would incentivize  violence as a legitimate response to free speech, and that is wrong in our country,” Muise said.  “Any freedom-loving American enjoys protections of the First Amendment.”The Sixth Circuit said, “(The ruling)  affirms the rule of law that when a violent mob is responding violently to protected speech, the police’s duty is to protect the speaker and not join that mob that is intent in suppressing the speech,” Muise said. “Today, the First Amendment was the victor.” Click here to go directly to the opinion. Article: Anti-Muslim Slurs Get Legal Protection (102915).

 The defendants in the above mentioned case were: WAYNE COUNTY, MICHIGAN; BENNY N. NAPOLEON, in his official capacity as Sheriff, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office; DENNIS RICHARDSON, individually and in his official capacity as Deputy Chief, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office; MIKE JAAFAR, individually and in his official capacity as Deputy Chief, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.

The case now goes back to a federal judge in Detroit, who will decide what damages the “Bible Believers” are entitled to.

That case should make clear the duty of peace officers in America to protect the speaker and the speech in the public forum. As well, the case points out the limits of the speech activity and actions of the speakers and much more.

As we have discussed before the above mentioned ruling, speech in the public forum is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Constitution of the state of Minnesota, and by your City Code. The people of Old Paths Baptist Church were well aware of what the Supreme Court has ruled concerning speech in the public forum. For example, on the “Separation of Church and State Law” website you will find the tract Street Preaching in America – Is it Legal? (https://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/b-messages-from-pastor/street-preaching/tract-street-preaching-in-america-is-it-legal/ ). Some of the members, especially the leaders, have copies of and have studied that tract and other materials. I believe you may find the tract useful in that it covers the hierarchy of the relevant law from the highest to the lowest. For that tract, the lowest law was the Northfield, Minnesota Code of City Ordinances and Charter.

The members of the OPBC street preaching ministry (and all the members) have now been forwarded the links to the above mentioned Sixth Circuit case and a brief summary of it. The case is linked to in several places on the “Separation of Church and State Law” website; e.g. see . https://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/b-messages-from-pastor/street-preaching/december-25-2013-an-unfolding-street-preaching-battle-in-northfield-minnesota/.

I discussed this with Pastor Jason Cooley. He tried to call you, but you were unavailable. After several attempts, he told me to take care of it since he is very busy with several projects (preachers 3 times a week, does 2 online broadcasts each week, street preaches, has family responsibilities, etc.).

Accordingly, in order to attempt to prevent the necessity of Civil Rights suit in federal court, I am sending this notification to you and other city officials given in the heading. The law makes clear that it is the job of peace officers to protect public speakers engaged in First Amendment protected activities and their speech. Should another police officer behave as did the officer in the video, the only remedy will be costly (to the defendants, including the taxpayers of the county, the officers involved, and the officials who should have educated and supervised those officers or who should have made sure that the officers were properly educated and supervised). The men of the OPBC Street Preaching Ministry sincerely hope that court action not be called for since they would rather spend their time communicating the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ instead of fighting a battle which has already been fought and won.

I am sure that City Attorney is aware of the law in these matters. I would also hope that Chief of Police and other law enforcement personnel are as well. My concern is that all of the officials of the city as well as all law enforcement personnel and especially those who will be working the in Dinkeytown know the law and are prepared to enforce it. Their job is to protect all citizens, including those citizens involved in protected speech. They cannot properly do their job without knowing the law.

The men of OPBC have already had to confront other cities and towns for violation of the First Amendment. You may find some of their triumphant trials and tribulations as well as the latest law at:

https://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/b-messages-from-pastor/street-preaching/december-25-2013-an-unfolding-street-preaching-battle-in-northfield-minnesota/

 https://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/b-messages-from-pastor/street-preaching/

So far, every city and town where a problem has arisen concerning the public speech by the men of OPBC has now educated their law enforcement personnel and no lawsuit has been necessary. Here in Austin, Texas, peace officers are well educated in the law. I was involved in a street preaching ministry here for 19 years and the police always protected us because they have been educated in the relevant law since all kinds of activists regularly communicate (speech, signs, symbols, tracts, etc.) in the public forum. They protected us and informed disruptive citizens of the law of free speech in America. On one occasion, a man who assaulted me was detained by the police. He lied and said I assaulted him. The police told me what he said but also said that they saw the whole thing and said I could file charges. I told them that I did not wish to do so. I could tell you numerous other stories of the great job the police in Austin, Texas do in upholding the law and protecting those who speak in the public forum.

The men of OPBC always endeavor to settle matters peaceably and according to the law. They do not wish to try to respectfully educate peace officers (sometimes very rude and obnoxious peace officers – see some of the encounters linked to on the website pages above) who are not acting according to the law. They do not wish to spend time in filing and executing lawsuits against offending officials (individual peace officers, county and city attorneys, mayors, city council members, and the cities in general) for matters which are well settled in the law. They have no desire to cost those people and the tax paying citizens unnecessary expense. I am sure you would rather use the city taxpayer money for other matters. Even more important, I am sure you wish to properly honor the law and to protect innocent persons who are peaceably exercising their rights under that law. In the event a lawsuit is necessary, OPBC has already contacted lawyers who will be ready and able to go to court in Minnesota.

Several cameras will be in use by the people of OPBC so that should false charges or accusations be made, or should lawsuit(s) be necessary, the facts will be protected from lies or misunderstandings.

Please educate your police officers and other city officials who may be involved all over the city of Minneapolis, and especially the Dinkeytown area, as to law concerning speech in the public forum in America. OPBC desires to have a good working relationship with the officials and all citizens of Anoka.

Again, on the above webpages, you will find other legal resources, positive and negative encounters with police officers linked to on Youtube, etc. which may help you as you look at this matter.

This letter is being posted on the website at: https://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/letter-to-appropriate-officials-concerning-speech-in-the-public-forum-in-dinkeytown-by-opbc/

The article which covers this entire episode is at: https://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/opbc-street-preachers-actions-against-university-of-minnesota-peace-officer-who-acted-unlawfully/

Very truly yours,

Jerald C. Finney
Jcf


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