Want to express yourself or communicate with your fellow men and women in Brigham City? Sure! Just fill out an application and give the city 24 hours’ notice. If you’re approved, the city will let you know where, when and in what manner you can speak.
That’s right. The Brigham City council recently approved an ordinance that makes it illegal to protest in public without begging the city for permission. Those caught engaged in “unlawful protest” can be fined $750 and thrown in jail for 90 days. The city was kind enough to provide Utah Liberty with a copy of the ordinance, which can be downloaded here (PDF).
Let’s consider some actions that could now get us thrown in jail in Brigham. Let’s say that I’m walking down the sidewalk with five or so of my buddies (the ordinance arbitrarily makes it okay for “spontaneous protests of five or less [sic] individuals”) and we decide we’d like to talk to each other. About what? Oh, it doesn’t matter, because the ordinance just says that “the communication or expression of views” is what’s being regulated here. Let’s say we’re talking about last night’s episode of Fringe. I mention that I liked it. I thought it was gripping and well acted. Now let’s say a police officer overhears this. He asks us to cease and desist from this unlawful speech and writes us a $750 ticket. If we continue to talk, we are arrested and spend 90 days in jail.
Ah, well, they wouldn’t do that, you may think to yourself. This ordinance is for trouble-makers and such. Let me tell you this: just because they wouldn’t do it doesn’t mean they can’t. And believe me: if some cop has something personal against you, he will.
Who can say with a straight face that this is a just law?
Utah Liberty Alliance seeks to bring about a free society through journalism and activism, starting right here at home.
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