At 7:30 pm sharp last night, several lawyers associated with Occupy San Diego denounced the arrest yesterday afternoon of Ray Lutz by San Diego police as he was registering people to vote. Lutz had set up a table in the private property area of Civic Center Plaza and was proceeding to register new voters when he was taken into custody for “trespass”.
The lawyers, other supporters and activists of the movement vowed to return today – Wednesday, Nov. 30th – to continue to register new voters. They plan to begin at 10:00 a.m. This was announced last night just before the nightly General Assembly.
Lutz was well within his legal rights to register voters on a section of private property that is open to the public. In California, at least, a person soliciting signatures, handing out fliers, doing voter registration can go where the public is invited, even if on “private” property. So, for instance, someone like Ray Lutz can go into a mall and legally solicit political views, donations, and signatures. As the malls have taken over California and the country they’ve become the new “main streets” or main squares for cities and communities. So, municipalities cannot privatize space that is open to the public. Lutz here is absolutely in his legal rights to do what he tried to do. And the arrest is illegal, unconstitutional, and opens the City up to legal suits – another waste of taxpayers’ money by Mayor Jerry Sanders.
Lutz is an east county Democratic Party activist. Here is a portion of a very good article about his arrest and comments from legal experts from the East County Magazine:
Former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre, in an exclusive interview with East County Magazine, called the arrest a violation of Title 42, Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, which prevents the state from denying voting rights, as well as the First Amendment constitutional right to free speech.
“Every San Diegan, whether the most conservative Republican or the most liberal Democrat, should be concerned that someone registering voters could be arrested on the city’s civic plaza because Republicans and Democrats register voters there, as do all parties,” Aguirre said. “This is the most constitutionally protected activity that you can engage in.”
Aguirre said registering voters is a protected activity on both public and private property open to the public. “In this case, it is so obvious that this person was singled out for political beliefs,” he said. “This kind of excess really gives us the opportunity to draw people’s attention to the dangers of a police state…Is there any member of the City Council that’s going to speak out?”
For the remainder of this article, please go here.