activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: fourth amendment

officer who turned activist’s bike upside down without consent conducted an unlawful search

On May 20, a Santa Ana police officer cited outspoken activist Igmar Rodas for riding an unlicensed bicycle. The Santa Ana municipal code prohibits riding a bike that has not been registered. On Wednesday, however, a judge ruled that the officer conducted an unlawful search by turning Rodas’s bike upside down without his consent. According to the Just Cause Law Collective,

Law enforcement officers can search without a warrant under a wide variety of circumstances. Among these, there’s only one situation in which you have any chance of preventing the intrusion—and that’s by saying “I don’t consent” when the police ask whether they can search. This is a powerful tool for using your civil rights, as important as remaining silent and asking to see a lawyer.

The judge upheld another citation Rodas received, though, for bicycling on a sidewalk in a business district. Rodas said he went on the sidewalk to get out of the officers’ way. He plans to appeal.

shareholder meetings declared extraordinary events, giving police broader powers

Duke Energy’s annual shareholder meeting will start tomorrow morning in Charlotte, North Carolina. City Manager Ron Carlee declared the meeting an “extraordinary event,” giving police broader powers to search people in the area. According to today’s WBTV article,

Officials want to be cautious about Duke Energy’s meeting because of the heated controversy over its recent coal ash spill, and the fact that the company’s coal ash policies have attracted protestors to its shareholder gatherings before.

The 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte was also declared an “extraordinary event.” Bank of America’s shareholder meeting on May 7 will fall into the same category. The WBTV article states that “the bank has been the target of large protests over its mortgage and foreclosure-related activities.”

new york police department lacked probable cause to arrest fulton street protesters during 2004 republican national convention

In an opinion filed yesterday, U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan found that the NYPD did not have probable cause to arrest Republican National Convention (RNC) protesters on Fulton Street on August 31, 2004. He based this conclusion on the rule of individualized probable cause:

An individual’s participation in a lawbreaking group may, in appropriate circumstances, be strong circumstantial evidence of that individual’s own illegal conduct, but, no matter the circumstances, an arresting officer must believe that every individual arrested personally violated the law. Nothing short of such a finding can justify arrest. The Fourth Amendment does not recognize guilt by association.

Judge Sullivan could not determine, however, whether police had probable cause to arrest people the same day on East 16th Street. While the Fulton Street protesters had no opportunity to comply with the “so-called dispersal order,” if they even heard it, many individuals on East 16th Street “were openly and consciously violating the law” – obstructing the sidewalk or parading without a permit. Sullivan found that questions remained regarding whether police reasonably believed that bystanders on East 16th Street had “sufficient notice and opportunity to leave the area and that only lawbreakers remained.”

Finally, Sullivan considered the fingerprinting policy adopted during the RNC and the City’s suspension of its policy of issuing summonses for traffic-level offenses. He concluded that the fingerprinting policy, which required fingerprinting of everyone arrested for RNC-related criminal activity, violated New York state law, and that the plaintiffs could bring a claim pursuant to that law. Yet as to the no-summons policy, he found it to be justified “as a check to serial protestors who might otherwise engage in repeat acts of disobedience designed to grind the City to a halt.”