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Better Police Training an Urgent Concern to Protect Free Speech

Honolulu Prosecutor drops charges against peaceful protesters

Oct 05, 2011

HONOLULU, Hawaii – Better police training about lawful protests is one of the recommendations that civil liberties lawyers will make after the Honolulu Prosecutor dropped its prosecution of Jamie and Tess Meier, who were cited and threatened with arrest for their peaceful Waikiki sidewalk demonstration in support of gender equality.

The Honolulu Prosecutor had asked for a one-month continuance from the court to conduct an investigation into the ACLU and Davis Levin Livingston’s claims that the ordinance used against the Meiers is unconstitutional and does not apply to their First Amendment activities.

Jamie and Tess Meier were cited by Honolulu Police Department (HPD) officers for failing to have a permit and threatened with arrest for holding a demonstration opposing gender discrimination as part of a nationwide movement, National Go Topless Day. The Meiers were charged with violating Revised Ordinances of Honolulu (ROH) § 10-1.3(a)(5) (failing to obtain a parks department permit for “meetings or gatherings or other similar activity held by organizations, associations, or groups.”)

“We are happy that the Meiers will not have to face another day in criminal court for their recent demonstration. However, this dismissal is just the first step to ensure that City and County of Honolulu government employees understand that individuals have the constitutional right to peacefully protest,” stated Matthew Winter, Davis Levin Livingston attorney.

ACLU Staff Attorney Laurie Temple added: “The ACLU expects the HPD to fulfill their oath to uphold the Constitution. So far, it is clear that officers have not been adequately trained to protect and respect the First Amendment. The ACLU continues to be very concerned for the fair treatment of law-abiding individuals who want to engage in peaceful protest.” The ACLU and Davis Levin Livingston will ask the Corporation Counsel of Honolulu to conduct thorough training about the law in advance of APEC to ensure that HPD does not violate the rights of protesters during that event.

Honolulu Prosecutor drops charges against peaceful protesters
Image from The Office of the ACLU of Hawaii

Source: The Office of the ACLU of Hawaii

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