More than 200 arrests of four people for First Amendment protected activity. The government of the City of Lake Worth Beach (pop. 35,000), formerly Lake Worth, has just settled a federal court lawsuit, repealing unconstitutional ordinances that prohibited asking people for help.
That's why we have federal courts.
That's why pencils have erasers.
When governments err, they must always admit error and correct it, rather than being "frozen in the ice of their own indifference," as FDR said, quoting Dante. Otherwise, voters vote them out of office. Ask Jeremiah Ray Blocker. Or Karen Stern. Or Marc Jacalone. Or Bruce Maguire. Or Andrea Samuels. Or Joseph Lester Boles, Jr.
These six (6) were all about secrecy and ex party meetings with land-raping scalawag speculators or "developers."
Pray for the souls of these six other-directed chauvinists -- almost forgotten unjust stewards of our nature and history. These six County and City Commissioners were all defeated because of their vapid votes for overdevelopment and against human rights.
Lives of meaningless flummery, dupery and nincompoopery -- these six (6) mooks will live in infamy.
What about our current elected officials, some of whom emit emotional anger at First Amendment protected activity? To whom do they think they're talking?
Meanwhile, a courageous videographer, Mr. Jeffrey Marcus Gray, has shared videos that have documented how some unenlightened government employees in Northeast Florida responded to Mr. Gray displaying a sign that says, "God bless homeless veterans."
Time to teach louche local officials some manners once again, in federal court?
St. Augustine and St. Johns County officials have repeatedly lost First Amendment lawsuits in federal court. Is it time for them to grow, or to go?
You tell me.
From Southern Legal Counsel:
February 13, 2023 - Southern Legal Counsel and West Palm Beach pro bono attorney Sabarish P. Neelakanta have settled their lawsuit against the City of Lake Worth Beach after the city repealed local ordinances that unlawfully prohibited public charitable solicitation, which is protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The settlement included damages for each of the four plaintiffs: Craig Kersh, Michael Fields, Roy Kersh and James R. Soares. The Lake Worth Beach residents had been arrested more than 200 times collectively under local ordinances restricting solicitation in public areas, including along public rights-of-way.
“We are pleased that the City of Lake Worth Beach chose to repeal their unconstitutional ordinances and negotiate a settlement,” said lead attorney Simone Chriss of Southern Legal Counsel. “Unfortunately, cities in Florida and around the country are continuing to adopt similar measures that criminalize poverty and homelessness. We will not stop fighting to protect the rights of Floridians whose local governments choose to arrest, fine and prosecute them rather than working toward actual solutions to the underlying social problems of those living in extreme poverty.”
The ordinances recently repealed in Lake Worth Beach did not restrict people from engaging in other forms of speech, such as asking for directions, encouraging people to join a church, or directing people to a local business, but rather singled out solicitations of help.
Neelakanta said it’s unfortunate that cities continue to brush aside their citizens’ constitutional rights and resort to heavy-handed tactics that punish people who are simply struggling for their own survival.
“Cities around the United States and the world have devised many proven solutions to poverty and housing instability, and yet time and again, instead of researching and implementing these solutions, cities adopt unconstitutional ordinances and target the poor for enforcement, thinking it is the easy way out,” Neelakanta said. “Such punitive approaches merely drive people further into homelessness, and ultimately, as many successful lawsuits against these cities have proven, they are not the easy way out. Nor are they a responsible use of law enforcement resources.”
The case, which was filed June 29, 2022, was Kersh et al v. City of Lake Worth Beach, Case No. 9:22-cv-80951. It will be dismissed once releases have been signed by all parties and the financial settlement has been disbursed.