Dad arrested for placing anti eminent domain flyers on windshields

In Steven Greenhut’s’book entitled Abuse of Power he covers national abuses in which our private property rights are being trampled by local redevelopment agencies.
The following recent story does not appear in his book but all forms of abuse continue across the land.
The following is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. There are always exceptions in the political arena. We actually had Congresswoman Maxine Waters supporting our position and standing alongside State Senator Tom McClintock and OC BOS Supervisor Chris Norby at one of our southern CA property rights conferences.
 In this case I can actually agree with the ACLU position.
Not to break the flow of this brief tale I have included the full story and link below.

Title. “Man arrested for passing leaflets that protest McKee development”

By Jeremy Kohler

ST. LOUIS — Gustavo Rendon is angry that City Hall is helping developer Paul McKee’s plan to rebuild 2 square miles of north St. Louis, and scared that he will lose his home.

He set out Sunday to put leaflets on windshields in his neighborhood, urging his neighbors to fight the project.

And then he was arrested.

Two police officers handcuffed Rendon in front of his children and put him in jail for about nine hours on suspicion of “affixing an advertisement on public or private property.”

 The charge drew scorn Tuesday from an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer and confusion from other local legal experts about why the city would pursue such a case.

Charlie Brennan, a KMOX radio personality, urged his listeners to support Rendon at his January court date.

After the Post-Dispatch asked about the case, St. Louis City Counselor Patricia Hageman said there won’t be a court date. She was dismissing the charge.

She said she didn’t know why her office issued that charge against Rendon when another one specifically bans leafletting on cars as littering.

Tony Rothert, the ACLU’s legal director, said federal appeals courts have struck down similar ordinances, “so perhaps they realized that and that may be why they (were) charging under the commercial ordinance, which is plainly inapplicable.”

Rendon, who lives in the 2300 block of Mullanphy Street, said he and his two children, ages 11 and 10, had put about 20 leaflets on cars parked near Mullanphy and 23rd Street.

The fliers were from Citizens for a More Responsible St. Louis Government. The group is gathering signatures for a petition to get a referendum on the next special election ballot for the redevelopment plan for NorthSide that won initial approval from the Board of Aldermen last month.

Rendon said a guard outside Rhema Baptist Assembly Church, at 23rd and Cass Avenue, approached him about 11:30 a.m. and told him to stop.

“I told him I’d researched it and knew I was practicing my constitutional right of free speech,” said Rendon, 41, a former city police officer who now works as a truck driver.

The church accused Rendon of leafletting on its property and called police; he denies entering the church parking lot and said he only left material on cars on the street.

Two city officers arrived and showed him an ordinance making it illegal to paste ads on public or private property.

Rendon said he told them he had the constitutional right to distribute leaflets — and that they were political messages, not ads.

The officers told him to remove the leaflets he’d already placed, and he refused. That’s when he was arrested.

“The officer told me if I get arrested he would take my kids and put them in foster care, and he said it about three times,” he said.

“Then, when I was finally placed in handcuffs and he was taking me to the car, he told my kids, ‘Go home, kids.’ I had to tell him, because you are arresting me, you have to make sure my kids are taken care of. And his partner, she went ahead and brought the kids back to my house.”

Asked about the comments, a police spokeswoman said they could not be verified because the officers were not in.
Thinking back to Rodney King I am reminded of his now famous statement “Why can’t we all just get along?”  When will big brother acknowledge the basic tenets of our founding fathers where John Locke promoted “life, liberty and property” later changed in the Declaration of Independence to read:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Are we to be happy campers when the  government actively takes our property for a private use when we have no desire to sell?  We do not oppose “takings” for valid public uses so long as we receive “just compensation.”

Larry Gilbert, OC Co-Director, CURE and Member Castle Coalition

About Larry Gilbert