Friday, April 16, 2010

Civil Rights Trampled in Tamarac

Unbelievable! Was what a friend said when I told him about my Tamarac ordeal!

Last night, (Thursday) I attended a Tamarac commission meeting where residents were fighting a proposed housing development on a golf course; one of them had asked me to come and speak to the commissioners during the 3 minute public input.

The group had on red shirts and carried white paper plates with the word NO on them to hold in the meeting room.

As the overflow crowd moved in the BSO deputies insisted that we throw our plates in the trash. I explained that it was our right to hold them but he, in a very nasty tone, told me he was following the city attorney’s orders. And we couldn’t have them because waving them around would be disruptive. He wouldn’t listen when I told him it was our constitutional right to have them and if someone was disruptive they could be ejected. I didn’t discuss the issue with him anymore, but as soon as I was in the room I asked the city attorney to tell the BSO to allow the plates. He told me it was his opinion that the BSO was right to prevent disruption, he wouldn’t listen to me either.

I then called my Attorney Tom Connick who was on his way home from a tiring day in trial, but came right over when he heard what was going on. After he arrived he talked to the Tamarac attorney the situation was straightened out as concerns the City Attorney allowing the paper plates provided they were not disruptive.

Tom told me:
“At Tamarac City Hall, after dealing with the City Attorney and his making the announcement, I then went to deal with the Sheriff’s Officer in charge. He was incredibly nasty to me. When I told him that now the people could hold their plates in view but could not wave them or be disruptive, he said he had not heard that. I told him to go verify it because I would not leave until he verified it and advised me that he would allow the signs to be held in view. He then came back and told me the people could hold the plates in view, but could not be disruptive. I told him he had no right as a policeman to violate people's first amendment rights. He didn't want to have any more contact with me, and said he was doing what the City Attorney said. I said that the Sheriff did not have a right to violate people's constitutional rights regardless of what the City Attorney or anyone else said. He said he didn't have any time to talk to me and started to turn to go away. I said I just had one more sentence to say to him, and he ignored me as he walked away.”

This is the second time BSO sheriffs have done this, in Deerfield Beach a couple of years ago we had the same situation, this time it was the city manager, not the city attorney, who told the deputies not to allow people holding plates in. It ended the same way.

Law enforcement officers are supposed to protect our Constitutional First Amendment right of free speech and expression, not trample on those rights. The difference between a democracy and a totalitarian government is the difference between law and law enforcement officers who protect fundamental rights versus law and law enforcement officers who forbid free speech and expression.

I guess it is not so unbelievable after all. Perhaps the BSO needs some remedial Constitutional Law classes.

Oh, yes, the Tamarac City Commission unanimously voted to deny the golf course proposal and voted not to transmit it to the next level. Not sure if the paper plates made the difference, but who knows?

1 comment:

  1. Wrong, ( about the difference between a totalitarian state and a democracy ). A democracy merely means that someone or some people had more say in how YOU need to live your life. You've gotten the same results! That's one reason why the libertarians say that a democracy is 2 hungry wolves and a lamb discussing what's for dinner. You in this case would quickly become a lamb, as most of us have become in this country.
    Which is why the founders did not create a democracy. They created a Constitutional Republic, something that's been long forgotten, has not even been taught in schools and learned by children, even by you who grew up in an upper middle class town in NJ obviously weren't taught this ( or you weren't listening, and judging by your lack of knowlege there are all your students who are also clueless now )
    And that's why the word democracy cannot be found in the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights or Constitution, those one of a kind documents which spelled out Freedom and established at least once upon a time how different we were from any other place in world history. And now, just a few percentage points away from any other socialist country. Thanks to people just like you Bett.