Our tenacity paid off! More than 18 months, 3 lawsuits and 2 protests later, the City of Carson has repealed its presence restrictions.
In a vote of 3 to 0, the City Council decided to rid the City of Carson of its presence restrictions which both violated state law and denied the civil rights of more than 100,000 individuals.
This important vote was taken despite a proclamation in 2014 by a member of the City Council to “declare war” upon registered citizens.
This important vote was taken because we did not give up. Instead, we showed up, we stood up and we spoke up – in the courts and in the streets of Carson.
First, we challenged the city’s ordinance in federal court alleging that the ordinance violated the U.S. Constitution and was preempted by state law. In good faith, we later entered into a Settlement Agreement with the City that specified the City would revise its restrictions and we would dismiss the lawsuit. We dismissed the lawsuit, however, the City reneged and refused to revise its restrictions.
The City Council attempted to justify its position by claiming that the City Manager lacked authority to bind the City despite a provision in the agreement stating that he had such authority. The City Council subsequently fired the City Manager.
Members of the City Council replied to the second lawsuit in state court as well as in the court of public opinion. That is, they postured before city residents during Council meetings by speaking out loudly and angrily about the lawsuit as well as about appellate court decisions which determined that similar laws adopted by other local governments were preempted. During those meetings, Council members acknowledged they were aware of the courts’ decisions and proclaimed they would not abide by them because they disagreed.
We responded to the Council’s angry proclamations by inviting members of that Council to a picnic in a city park. We believed that such an event had the potential to close the gap between the parties. Because the Council members refused our invitation, we organized and conducted a peaceful protest in the form of a march from City Hall to the park where a picnic was held – in the park for family members and 300 feet away from the park for registered citizens who could not lawfully enter. We conducted a second peaceful protest on another day prior to a City Council meeting.
Third, we filed a second lawsuit in federal court after a new and brave registrant agreed to serve as a plaintiff in that lawsuit. The original federal allegations — the City’s presence restrictions violated the U.S. Constitution and were preempted by state law – were repeated.
The Carson City Council made the right decision this week when it significantly revised its presence restrictions so as to comply with state law and the Carson City Council is to be commended for that decision.
Let us take this time to savor our victory in the battle to protect the Constitution by restoring an important civil right, that is, that registered citizens be allowed to lawfully visit public and private places. For we shall soon enough be required to fight another battle in Carson and in other cities, that is, to restore the right of registered citizens to lawfully reside in the city or county of their choice.
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