Citizens Action Network: Open Letter to Supervisor Matt Gonzalez,
President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
April 18, 2003
Dear Supervisor Gonzalez;
As President of the Board of Supervisors, we are asking that you support Supervisor Tony Hall, in his efforts to place this Proposed Ballot Initiative on the November 4, 2003 election ballot.
Be it ordained, by the people of the City and County of San Francisco, that anyone who, after being asked to disperse, knowingly and deliberately continues to disrupt, block, or impede, in any manner, the normal flow of traffic or pedestrian access, by sitting upon, lying down, or congregating in large groups, on any Sidewalk, Street, or any other Public Roadway, within the City and County of San Francisco, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Conviction for any segment of this misdemeanor, as set forth in this initiative, shall be punishable by a mandatory fine of no less than Three Hundred Dollars ($300) or more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500), plus all relevant court costs. All arrests, without exception, made under this ordinance, shall carry a mandatory cash bail of no less than One Thousand Dollars ($1000). No individual, upon arrest, may be released from custody, until and unless, they have provided authorities with valid identification. Any individual, who refuses to provide any Court, with valid identification, may be found to be in contempt.
This ballot initiative is in no way, written or designed to curtail or limit normal legal protesting. It is directed solely at those few individuals bent on shutting down the City of San Francisco. At no time will any person, in the normal course of protesting, be affected by this ballot initiative. The sole purpose of this ballot initiative is to stop a few individuals from, knowingly and deliberately, blocking Streets, Sidewalks, Highway and Bridge entrances, Businesses, and Corporations.
The behavior of these few individuals is causing irreparable harm to our great city. They are stopping seniors from getting to badly needed doctor and hospital appointments; San Franciscans from getting to work: traffic from flowing freely; businesses and corporations from operating freely and in general causing major chaos in San Francisco.
In addition it is costing the City as much as $900,000 a day in overtime
and other costs -- money that the City of San Francisco can ill afford, in
this time of severe budget crisis.
Just as Freedom of Speech precludes shouting fire in a crowded theater, so does the right to engage in Civil Disobedience preclude holding Citizens, Visitors, Businesses and Corporations of San Francisco hostage, as a direct result of their illegal actions. If one of these protesters grabbed just one citizen on the street, under other circumstances, they would be arrested and charged with assault. Why would it suddenly become legal under the guise of Civil Disobedience? The simple answer is that it is not. There is not a law on the books that permits denying any citizen, for other than legal purposes, access and egress on our streets, sidewalks, bridges, highways, stores and other businesses. So why are we allowing it to happen.
We are not asking that you support this proposed initiative. All that we are asking is that you support and encourage the placing of this initiative on the November 4, 2003 election ballot and let the People of San Francisco decide. If they do not want it they will most certainly defeat it. Let the People decide -- That's all we are asking for, nothing more-nothing less.
Citizens Action Network strongly supports anyone's right to protest. The right to protest is sacred in our country. What we do oppose is allowing one small splinter group of protesters
-- many from out of tow -- imposing their will on the citizens, businesses and corporations, at will and without penalty. This can no longer be allowed in San Francisco. Place this initiative on the ballot and let the People decide
-- I think you will find that I am right. Extend to the voters of San Francisco, the same the same attention to "rights" we seem to be extending to the illegal actions of these protesters. Have the courage to listen to the true voice of the people at the ballot box. Support placing this initiative on the ballot. I am willing to discuss this matter with you at length, at your convenience.
With sincere best wishes,
John J. Malloy-Director
Citizens Action Network
1115 Polk Street #35
San Francisco, CA 94109
Tel:- (415) 776 9430
Hon Willie Brown-Mayor