Constitution Party of Massachusetts congresssional candidate relegated to “free speech zone”

Well, we had a most intersting time at the Lowell Folk Festival this past weekend. I was there on Staurday collecting signatures for ballot access, when I was approached by the park police. This official approached as I was talking with a couple from Lowell who were willing to sign. The official stood there for a moment and waited till they were about to pick up the pen and she then informed me that I would have to leave the particular area. I was in City Hall Plaza (in front, not in, the stage area). She asked me to move into the “Free Speech Zone.” Yes, apparently in this woman’s mind, free speech can only take place in designated zones. I could not believe what I was hearing! So, I took out my camera and shot some footage. You will want to see this for yourself. You can access the video and other pictures from the regular campaign site here

Source: Kevin Thompson for Congress

10 Responses to “Constitution Party of Massachusetts congresssional candidate relegated to “free speech zone””

  1. Joey Dauben Says:

    I still haven’t found a lawyer willing to explain this to me properly.

    Okay, we have the First Amendment. That is a given. It is for political speech. Assembly. Etc., etc.

    Does that mean just because I have First Amendment protections, I can (using an example here) walk right out in the middle of a highway with a sign?

    Or can states and local governments - and due to the federal highway system, the feds - regulate that First Amendment?

    I think there needs to be some serious thought here. Speech zones are stupid, but then again, wait a minute …does the First Amendment give you every single piece of public space for your free speech rights?

    Can you just up and walk into a courtroom - during a trial - and spout off whatever? No. You can’t. That’s a safe regulation in my opinion.

    You people and all of your all-your-rights-all-the-time should help me understand this a little further…

  2. Fred C. Says:

    “You people” ?!? :P

    While your rights are absolute, they do not grant you the ability to go past your rights to exercise them.

    Your examples are pretty extreme, but they don’t quite mesh up with the first amendment as it’s written. If you’re running out on the highway it doesn’t matter if it’s to make a point or just because you’re high on crack, ultimately you present a real immediate risk to every motorist that swerves to avoid the crazy man on the freeway, speech doesn’t play into it regardless of your intentions. Same reason you can’t force a human sacrifice under religious grounds, or carry around a plague corpse’s severed limb as the right to bear arms.

    A park, a public gathering, a sidewalk - these are not places you’re putting someone in danger by voicing your opinion. I don’t even think they should be able to shush you in the library.

  3. Fred C. Says:

    Actually at second glance that first statement I made doesn’t make any sense. I meant to say your rights don’t give you the ability to violate the rights of others.

  4. disinter Says:

    The gestapo also removed Ron Paul supporters from a public sidewalk in San Antonio… Standing on the street was okay, but not the sidewalk. Go figure.


  5. JR Says:

    The 1st amendment, along with all of the original bill of rights, only was intended to prohibit federal interference in the defense of our liberties. Only through a perversion of the 14th amendment does this now affect how states and localities treat these matters. Those of us who seek to reign in federal tyranny need to refrain from making a federal case (“my first amendment rights!”) out of local abuses.

  6. matt Says:

    JR is right, but, as the Declaration of Independence recognizes, we humans are endowed with the inalienable rights that result from our ownership of our own bodies. These rights don’t stem from government action any more than gravity stems from falling apples.

    Ideally, governments exist to create a system of mutual recognition of individual’s rights within a community. Within that context, you get prohibitions like the ones Fred C. mentions, and I’m ok with that, as long as the prohibitions don’t extend beyond those obviously needed to ensure safety (i.e. violations of property and self-ownership rights).

  7. Ted Says:

    It seems to me that Thompson shouldn’ve told the police officer there was no need for him to be penned up in a free speech “zone” because he wasn’t demonstrating, he was merely talking to people and asking them to sign a petition. As long as he wasn’t impeding traffice or otherwise harassing people why should he have been restricted in his movements?

  8. Andy Says:

    This is a truly disgusting rights violation and I’ve been in this situation on numerous occassions myself - since I’ve collected thousands and thousands of petition signatures - so I know what it is like to be in Kevin Thompson’s position.

    Preventing a person from collecting signatures on a petition is a blatant violation of the 1st amendment, and it also violates similiar provisions in every state constitution. Also, I happen to know for a fact that the right to collect signatures on petitions in places that the public has access to is a clearly established and recognized right in the state of Massachusetts.

    It also goes against the outcomes of a bunch of free speech and petitioning related court cases such as the Pruneyard decsion and Marsh vs. Alabama (to name just two cases).

    This was a public festival held in a public venue in which the general public was invited. Kevin Thompson had every right to be there and should not have been forced to stand in a “free speech zone” as this is really a way of limiting his speech and cutting down on the number of petition signatures he could get.

    The cops that told him that he had to stand in a “free speech zone” should be fired.

    I don’t think that most people realize how big of a problem the harrassment of people collecting petition signatures is, especially when it comes to people trying to get on the ballot as minor party or independent candidate. The state says that you’ve got to get thousands of signatures to get on the ballot, but then in many cases they threaten you with arrest if you go anywhere to do it. DISGUSTING.

  9. Nicholas Says:

    I also was with Kevin on that day… But here is what happen to me…on
    Sunday July 29, 2007 started out great I woke up approx 8 am to a beautiful sunny day rained in the night and clouds had flown away…
    Made coffee said hi to my cat, made breakfast and went outside to enjoy the quite time by myself before I go off to the Lowell Folk Festival, which they are proud to say it is the “Largest Free Folk Festival in America.” While eating I was going over what happen yesterday there hoping not to have any problems this day.
    Not knowing that in a few hours my 1st amendments rights would be taken away from me…on the streets and sidewalks of America.
    I don’t know if many of you know that in most states here in America to get a independent candidate on the ballot, candidates have to run petition drives so that register voters could cast their votes for more then the two parties on Election Day.
    FYI there are two countries and one US state that I want to mentioned have a different way to get candidates on the ballot. It was the process that all states in America used to follow. Those countries are England and Australia and the state of Mississippi. To be placed on the ballot all the people who live in those areas need to do it go to the town hall and sign a letter of intention to run for a specfic office. Wow, what a novel idea. Free access to the ballot box. Who ever thought of that must have their heads examined (i.e. tongue in cheek comment).
    Well, I got dressed and headed off for my next 40 plus minutes drive to the promise in the constitution the right to petition our government.
    What a great drive listing to great lecture and anticipating the day.
    Doing what I do all over the country is a real challenge but when one has a passion for our country the fear of talking to people leaves.
    Arrived 11: 45 driving up the parking garage ramp I could tell I’m a bit early but that is OK, time to get ready with my petition sheet sheets, boards, pens, rubber bands and literature that I need, Oh yes, sun screen too.
    Now it is 11:50 and stared to ask fellow Americans on the streets in Lowell, MA are they a register voter in the 5th congressional district.
    Within 5 minutes I was stopped by a Park Ranger Jim Roberts preseeded to ask me, “What are you doing.”
    I told him “I’m petitioning to help my fiend Kevin Thompson so he could run for congress in the 5th congressial district”
    He said “Who gave you permission to do this?”
    My Greek (attitude) started getting up I told him “I’m excising my 1st amendment right to petition.”
    He stated again “You can’t do that here only in Free Speech Zones”
    I asked him, “Are you telling me that these streets and side walks are not Free Speech areas in Lowell, MA?”
    He commented “You are right we have set up area to allow Free Speech.”
    I said “are we not on the streets of America?”
    He said “You better move along and stop asking people.”
    I said “Yesterday there was a representative for Sec. Of the Commonwealth here Greg Pappas and he told us we have the right to petition.” Mr. Pappas also told us “we can do it anywhere they can’t stop you from that is volition of your rights and a law suit ready to happen…”
    He said “You better come with me.”
    I proceeded to call Mr. Pappas at 12:06 pm he was not available so I left a message.
    The Park Ranger Jim Roberts called his supervisor and was told to tell me “If I don’t stop petitioning he would call to have me forcibly removed and arrested…”
    I ask where are the “Free Speech Zones?”
    He pointed out to me the 2 “Free Speech Zones” one was a dead end empty lot that would have no traffic of people there that other on a small patch of land by the city hall building…a approx. 160 ft x 60 space of Freedom of Speech. (Look at the maps and you will see that it was as big as a fly on an elephant area.)
    FEARING being arrested and having my wrist in handcuffs, I opt for the small patch of “so called Free Speech Zone” allowed for the Constitution Party to petition…
    If there was another person with me to film the arrest, I would have let them arrest me. Without witnesses the story, for some reason…the public would not be told the truth.
    While being there other candidates were able to walk freely shake hands and give out literature freely in the “NON-Free Speech area” all over the festival… I was not allowed where they were…
    Which reminds me of a metaphoric book by George Orwell’s Animal Farm where is states in the story “Pigs are more equal then other animals.” I felt like Snowball from the book.
    What has come to freedom on the streets of America?
    As Benjamin Franklin said; “A Republic if you can keep.” What do we have, now?
    It was funded by tax payers dollars…check out the site…
    The Lowell Folk Festival is Presented by Lowell National Historical Park, Lowell Festival Foundation, National Council for the Traditional Arts and the City of Lowell.
    This is off the Government website…
    Last Full Weekend in July
    The biggest free folk festival in the United States—is three days of traditional music, dance, craft demonstrations, interactive activities, street parades, dance parties, and ethnic foods, presented on six outdoor stages throughout the city. Park programs are reduced during the festival.
    Who owns the parks??? Is it not “We the People.”
    So to conclude this story I met another candidate parents Patrick Murphy who also needs to gather signatures but was told he would have to buy a booth to petition. The cost to do so was $6,000+. They asked me “How could you petition here?” I told then this is the “Free Speech Zone.” They were not told that at all…. But they were passing out their son’s literature in the non-free speech zone…
    What has America become…the AmeriKa with a K?
    A friend 20 years ago told me that when he arrived to the states from Russia to live was surprise to see that we were really a communist nation. Check this out…
    Sunday July 29, 2007 was, yet another example of the nails placed in the coffin of freedom that was brought into existence in 1776…
    Edmund Burke 1729-1779 “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
    Samuel Adams, (1722-1803), was known as the “Father of the American Revolution.” He said this during 1776…
    “If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
    Mr. Ballot Access
    PS We did ok in gathering signatures but if I was allowed the freedom to walk the streets of Lowell instead of waiting for people to come to the “Free Speech Area by chance I would have done 4 to 5 times better…
    PPS Do you remember this?
    “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”
    Patrick Henry

  10. Andy Says:

    Great post Nicholas.

    I want to make one more comment about the video and this is to point out the cowardly actions of the Republican candidate that was walking around the festival talking to the voters. Kevin Thompson kept asking him if he was going to be willing to debate him and the Republican candidate and his entourage kept running away without anwsering. This was an act of pure cowardice. If a candidate is not confident enough in their ideas and beliefs to debate them in a public forum then they should be ashamed of themselves and nobody should give them any respect, much less vote for them.

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