Free the Parks (fwd)

Anitra Freeman (anitra@speakeasy.org)
Sun, 23 May 1999 00:30:11 -0700 (PDT)


Previously posted to Newsgroups: seattle.politics

Councilmembers Nick Licata, Richard McIver and Peter Steinbrueck have
presented a proposal to amend the Parks Exclusion Ordinance.  A public
hearing was held Thursday May 20; this was the final public hearing on the
Parks Exclusion Ordinance.  A previous hearing was so packed that not
everyone got a chance to speak, and emotions ran high with a lot of boos
and catcalls when audience members disagreed with speakers.  This hearing
session was packed also, but everyone got to speak and the tone was much
more civil.  (We got through almost the whole night before the word
"fascist" was used, and only one person began her remarks with, "I am not
a bigot.")

The Parks Exclusion Ordinance allows the Seattle Police to ban people from
public parks for 7 days up to permanently, on their own judgement that
criminal activity or public danger exists (including drinking alcohol in
the park & sleeping in the park) with no court hearing beforehand.  The
police ticket you and you leave, now.

The proposed amendments:
-- require that the police write the reason for the ticket, explain it
verbally, and provide a language translation line if the ticketed
individual does not speak English
-- if the ticketed individual indicates a desire to apppeal the ticket,
the ticket is suspended until a court hearing is held
-- tickets can only be given for felony behavior

I'm boiling it down -- for full details you can write to the City Council
http://www.pan.ci.seattle.wa.us/leg/Email.htm

The defenders of the ordinance, who want to keep it like it is, claim that
it has been effective in helping the police to clear the parks of people
who spoil them for everyone, and that the amendments will gut its
effectiveness.

The opponents of the ordinance claim that "effectiveness" is not an
adequate defense of a law; our laws must observe Constitutional
guidelines, and this doesn't.  It completely violates due process.  It is
used, in practice, just as the opponents (which included Richard McIver)
warned in the beginning -- to target poor people and minorities.  People
are getting ticketed for not doing anything illegal but just sitting in
the park looking different.

I am opposed to the Parks Exclusion Ordinance, myself.  I would like to
see it repealed entirely; barring that, these amendments at least improve
the situation.

You can let the City Council know your own opinion:
http://www.pan.ci.seattle.wa.us/leg/Email.htm
__________
Write On!
Anitra