First I’d like to thank all the people who are active in the bike, independent news, and law communities. I did not win, this was a win for “the rule of law” and the freedom of everyone to assemble without “restraint’. See Section 1, article 26 of the Oregon State Constitution.
I’m not a lawyer so I can’t give legal advice. Everything I say is just my own opinion about myself. My case sets a precedent much like the recent and famous ACLU case: State v. Ausmus. The rule of law is plain and simple: Nobody can tell me what to do if I am walking on a sidewalk, protest or not, police or not. End of story. They can’t ticket me for “impeding traffic”, “failure to obey” ( State v. Rowe ) and they can’t use “Disorderly Conduct” ( State v. Ausmus ). In other words, if I want to protest I should do so on a sidewalk and on foot.
Here are the very narrow times when police can order me to do something:
1) I’m breaking any law
2) I’m interfering with an investigation
3) I’m a safety risk to others or myself
Otherwise, there is no law allowing cops to order me to do anything. In my case the Appellate court said: “no authorization in substantive law that would apply to the officer’s order that defendant “move along.”
I’ll be writing an article on this because the truth has been twisted so many times in the last 2 years. It will be hard to keep the press from using this to put a negative light on cyclists, critical mass, protesting (assemblies), or their scapegoat of the day.
The City leadership and Police Department continue to waste taxpayer money with a wide variety of bad policies:
- Massive and undocumented overtime to monitor peaceful and lawful protests
- Falsely labeling protests as illegal
- Failure to train leadership and police on Oregon Laws.
- No process to track abusive officials, judges or officers nor expel the worst.
- Not rewarding the majority of police who know and follow the law
- Putting restraints on where, when and for how long protests can happen
- Attacking protesters, homeless, you name it, with excessive or deadly force
- False arrests and ticketing of protesters, homeless, you name it
- Illegal searches
- Telling witnesses to police abuse that they will be arrested if they don’t go away
- Low income people paying greater penalties ( time, money, or death ) due to inequity in legal resources
- Fewer police on the streets because many are in court defending false citations
- Expensive legal costs in court and payback after victims win appeals
- Knowing all of the above is going on, denying it, and making no corrections
I would like to end this by trying to clear up some things, all on public record and transcripts. I was part of critical mass that day. I did follow all legal orders. I had been walking my bike for at least 15 minutes because some of the polite cops reminded people they did not have legal lighting. I had legal lighting but I walked my bike to stay together. Officer Sessum approached me and his first and only words demanded only that I show him my ID. When I kindly refused and mentioned the law, he cuffed me within 10 seconds and proceeded to go into my pockets and ask me about drugs. They told witnesses to go away or they would be arrested too. He then made threats about my employment. That day I witnessed him use his motorcycle as a weapon against cyclists with excessive force. I saw him drive in excess of 20mph on downtown sidewalks in rush hour. I saw him drive against the direction of legal car and bicycle traffic.
What happened in lower court was equally appalling. When the day of court came 6 months later, Sessum could not recognize me. He started his testimony with blatant lies or total confusion because he had no notes or memory. He opened by trying to lie that I was riding my bike. Rather than deal with the law, both he and the Judge tried to paint me as blocking a doorway to a local restaurant, when in fact I was nowhere near any door. The Judge kept interrupting my oral statements and went so far to say “Let me clue you in here”. Judge Larson finished with “(I) suggest to you, Mr. Rowe, that you figure out a way to comply with the orders of police officers and not argue so much with them. You’re going to do a lot better with the officers if you just simply obey what, I think, can be reasonably characterized as reasonable requests. If you’re on the sidewalk, and you not moving, and you’re part of a big group, you need to move along when they say, “Move along.” Or you’ll be back. I’d hate to see you be back.”
To this I replied: “I have never actually argued with officers in the past, nor did I argue with Sessum. It was my opinion not to argue with them.
Judge Larson: “Did he argue with you?”
Sessum: “He just didn’t do what I asked, That’s argument.”
Other segments of the official transcript: Sessum: “I hate critical mass” and “it’s an illegal procession”.
There are only a few checks and balances that remain in our country, and I was lucky to have access to the Appellate court. Protesting is not a tool for everyone but it must be something that everyone protects. I ride my bike more than my car because I know I’ve got to exercise for the much larger fight against the corporate takeover of the house, senate, media and president and who lie to us and cover for each other with ignorance.
Section 8 and 26 of the Oregon Constitution Article I
S.8 “No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right.
S.26 “No law shall be passed restraining any of the inhabitants of the State from assembling together in a peaceable manner to consult for their common good.