minneapolis says it will stop charging people with trespassing for engaging in first amendment protected activities

by Tim Phillips

The authoritarian impulse of governments to control speech is still alive in the world.

On June 9, 2011, Melissa Hill was detained and issued a trespass notice after she wrote with chalk on a public sidewalk outside the Federal Building in Minneapolis. Hill filed a lawsuit asserting violations of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Today’s press release from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota gives a more detailed explanation of the incident:

In 2011 Hill was in the process of re-chalking “Don’t Enlist, Resist” when she was handcuffed, detained, searched and questioned by security guards, [Federal Protective Service] Agents and a Minneapolis Police Department officer. The MPD issued Hill a trespass notice that prohibited her from entering the property of the Federal Building for a period of one year.

Hill recently entered into a settlement agreement resolving her lawsuit. According to the agreement, the U.S., DECO (a privately-held company providing protective security services), and the City of Minneapolis will pay a total amount of $5,000 to the ACLU of Minnesota for attorneys’ fees and costs. In February 2012, Hill settled a separate lawsuit, arising from her arrest in October 2011, for $15,000 and changes to Hennepin County’s trespassing policy.