Police Bill Protesters for "Protection"
- News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
[Anarchists have often compared government police to a
protection racket, but this puts a new twist on things--now
they're literally trying to charge people to "protect" them
Police bill protesters for protection
The Associated Press
March 01, 2004
The American Civil Liberties Union is demanding that a
central Pennsylvania police department rescind a bill for
$3,047 that it sent to an activist who organized a small
protest against U.S. immigration policy.
Springettsbury Township has demanded that march organizer
Keith Dobson reimburse the police department for the cost of
providing police protection to the group of around 25
protesters who gathered near the York County Prison in January.
More than 100 police officers in riot gear trailed the
demonstrators during the protest as they marched from a
park, to the prison, and then to a tractor plant.
The ACLU said it is unconstitutional for a police department
to charge citizens thousands of dollars to exercise their
right to free speech.
"We've asked them to rescind that bill by Friday, and if
they don't, we're going to court," said Paula Knudsen, an
attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania.
"The last time I checked, free speech included the word
free," she said. "It's not $3,047 speech."
The group staged its demonstration at the prison to protest
the detainment of immigrants after the Sept. 11 attacks.
York County rents space in the prison to U.S. immigration
agencies. It also picketed a Caterpiller plant near York
because it believed the company sold bulldozers to Israel
that had been used to demolish Palestinian homes.
Township officials said a heavy police presence was needed
during the demonstration because some of the protesters were
anarchists. Springettsbury Township Manager John Holman said
the officers also helped protesters cross streets safely.
The bill, he said, would cover the cost of police overtime
pay. Officials told Dobson he would be billed for police
services before he had the march.
The township is about 20 miles south of Harrisburg, near the
city of York.
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News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
"It's a political statement -- or, rather, an
*anti*-political statement. The symbol for *anarchy*!"
-- Batman, explaining the circle-A graffiti, in
_Detective Comics_ #608