Jerry Dyer kept his word Wednesday and cited protest organizer Justice Medina. Justice was told by Fresno police officers that he would be subject to arrest if the protest took to the streets. This has been Dyer’s primary way of repressing free speech assemblies since protesters took the streets in January of 2014.
Although Dyer says Justice was told to keep the protest on the sidewalk, the citation is for “obstructing the sidewalk.”
It also says “special event/no permit.” I’ll get into that after FPD’s statement.
From the Fresno Police Department:
PROTEST ORGANIZER ARRESTED FOR BLOCKING STREETS WITHOUT A PERMIT
On Saturday July 9th, 2016 a large protest was held at the corner of Blackstone/Shaw in North Fresno. Prior to the protest beginning, Captain Andrew Hall and Lieutenant Richard Tucker met with the protest organizer who was identified as Justice Medina, a 20 year old Clovis resident. Captain Hall and Lieutenant Tucker advised Medina that it was unlawful for him to protest in the streets and block traffic without a permit. Medina was told that he would be subject to arrest if this occurred. Please see the attached YouTube link for a video recording of this conversation.
Despite these advisements by Captain Hall and Lieutenant Tucker, Medina went back to the group and addressed the protestors telling them that they would occupy the streets. See the attached Fresno Bee video link.
The marchers involved in the protest, led by Medina, marched through several streets throughout the City of Fresno and into Clovis, ending at the Clovis Police Department. In addition, the protestors marched through the Fashion Fair Mall parking lot and into the mall itself. At one point, the protestors attempted to enter the southbound lanes of State Route 41, but were stopped by the California Highway Patrol
Due to the large number of protestors, which were estimated to be in excess of 500, the Fresno Police Department was required to dedicate resources to the event to keep both the protestors and other citizens safe. The Fresno Police Department’s Traffic and Special Events Bureau sought an arrest warrant for Medina for blocking the streets without a permit, a violation of the City’s municipal code. Once the warrant was secured, we contacted Medina as he was leaving another planned protest tonight, July 13th, 2016. Medina was cooperative with officers and received a citation for the violation, in lieu of a $20,000 bail.
It is commonly understood that parades and marches that block traffic require a permit from the city, but there are exceptions to that rule, and Saturday’s march meets that exception. Over 500 people assembling in protest to recent events is that exception and it is not reasonable to expect that many people to stay on the sidewalk.
Protesters have every right per the First Amendment of the Constitution to protest recent events, in the streets.
Many permit procedures require that the application be filed several weeks in advance of the event. However, the First Amendment prohibits such an advance notice requirement from being used to prevent protests in response to recent news events. Also, many permit ordinances give too much discretion to the police or city officials to impose conditions on the event, such as the route of a march or the sound levels of amplification equipment. Such restrictions may violate the First Amendment if they are unnecessary for traffic control or public safety, or if they interfere significantly with effective communication to the intended audience. A permit cannot be denied because the event is controversial or will express unpopular views.
Justice says he is not afraid to continue the protests:
“I have no fear in my heart, and you will not silence me!”