Becker Receives $1 From City - First Amendment Case is Settled
Before anyone gets confused: this is NOT the Open Access case against City Cable for stealing all our Open Access customers and kicking us off the network.
This case is from November when I put “vote no on Sewer Tax” handbills on windshields of cars. Several days later, on Election Day and in front of the Ward 2 polling station, I was written a citation for putting handbills on cars. I was told by the officer “I have every right to throw you in jail.” And City Police went around to all the wards and took down my “Vote No” campaign signs. We filed in Federal Court that my First Amendment rights were violated by the City of Poplar Bluff.
The settlement does not cast blame on either party, however both my legal team and I were paid as part of the settlement. My lawyers, the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, were paid $5,000 to recover legal expenses and I received $1. (The check will be framed and on display at semo.net soon.)
Other positives that came out of the settlement include: the city permanently struck down it’s ordinance which prevents flyers from being placed on cars; promised not to re-institute a similar ordinance; and the City promised not to continue investigating me regarding this incident.
Doug Bagby also filed two “Missouri Ethics Violations” against me over this but last month the Commission dismissed those charges and exonerated me.
The Official Press Release from www.aclu-em.org states:
FIRST AMENDMENT CASE AGAINST THE CITY OF POPLAR BLUFF IS SETTLED
A First Amendment lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri on behalf of Brian Becker against the city of Poplar Bluff was settled on March 14, 2013. The City of Poplar Bluff has agreed to drop all investigations against Becker for distributing leaflets and not replace the unconstitutional ordinance, which forbids the placement of handbills on vehicles without a permit and advance written consent of the vehicle owners; the ordinance was repealed shortly after the ACLU brought suit.
Becker was opposed to a local $20 million bond initiative for sewer upgrades and last November had used handbills to spread his message. “No one should ever fear arrest or fines for expressing their opinions in ways that are protected by the First Amendment,” says Tony Rothert, legal director for the ACLU-EM.
A copy of the settlement agreement is available for you to read.
The events of this case were reported since November here on semo.net and also on SemoTime.com: This Is The Reason They Call Poplar Bluff Little Chicago