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MO: City Union Mission sues Jackson County sheriff over arrest threats

[The Kansas City Star]

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is targeting some sex offenders for arrest at the City Union Mission because it sits near a park, according to a federal lawsuit alleging that the practice violates the charity’s constitutionally protected rights of religious freedom.

The suit centers on how the sheriff’s office interprets a Missouri law that prohibits certain offenders from “loitering” within 500 feet of a public park that contains a pool or playground equipment.

The mission operates several facilities in the 1100 block of East 10th Street near Margaret Kemp Park, and the sheriff’s office has interpreted that law to cover those offenders at the mission, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City.

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  1. just in CA

    Is this filed in Federal Court?

  2. AJ

    This case sums up a couple things I’ve been on lately: how presence restrictions violate First Amendment religious expression, and the vagueness of the word “loiter.” I am confident the State will lose this case, perhaps even with harsh words from the bench. That said, I’m guessing the court will take the easy way out and merely rule on the vagueness of the word “loiter,” and avoid the First Amendment issue. (Kind of makes sense. Why kill a law the hard way when you can kill it the easy way?) The thing is, the State is going to have a VERY hard (I would say impossible) time saying the RCs were loitering, regardless how that word is defined. In fact, the State cannot say one way or another what the RCs were doing there.
    Maybe they were basket weaving. Maybe teaching ESL. Who knows. All that matters is the State must show “loitering,” however defined, was occurring. But it doesn’t really matter, as there is no way they were present at the mission for no apparent reason, or not doing anything, etc. They were there for food, shelter and (perhaps) religious services. IOW, engaging in life activities, which definitely is not loitering.

    One thing that makes me scratch my head is how is the mission being forced to, “allow sheriff’s deputies to conduct ‘sweeps’ of its facilities.” Someone should remind the mission operators that there’s this thing called the Fourth Amendment.

    @just in CA
    Yes, Federal court: “…according to a federal lawsuit…” is right in the article, and the header of this section.

  3. Josh james

    Is the MO law loitering or just being there? (Either way is unconstitutional)I thought it was just being in the vicinity of. I love it how the sheriff does not take any accountability for the law, the lawmakers don’t either…This is the law and I will enforce it. It will cost them though. I don’t see a chance of blocking anyone from a church.

    • G4Change

      The way I understand the law is it says “must not be present”. So, it’s a presence restriction.

      I pray that this and other laws like them are finally struck down.

      And thank you very much ACLU of Missouri for not giving a crap and not lifting a finger. You make me sick!

      • AJ

        Thanks for the clarification. I was going to research the MO law myself, but didn’t. It’s interesting the mission is suing about loitering then, and that that word has even been tossed into the conversation (including by the Sheriff). As mentioned above, it should be seen as unconstitutional either way. Even if found constitutional (this is MO, after all), it will still infringe on a fundamental right (religious expression), and is therefore subject to strict scrutiny (, meaning the onus is on the State to show it’s valid. Somehow I’m guessing the law is neither the least restrictive nor narrowly tailored to satisfy a compelling government interest. Just a guess…

        • G4Change

          If I’m understanding what happened in MO correctly: Several years ago, a couple of these restrictions were found unconstitutional as applied retroactively because of a clause in the state constitution that bans civil laws that are “retrospective” in their nature. Years before that the MO Supreme Court found all S.O. laws to be non-punitive and therefore civil. So, we came back and said, “Ok, since they’re civil, you can’t apply them retrospectively” and the liars in black robes agreed and struck down the residency and the Halloween law (for a couple of years). Then some guy got busted being present at a park. That specific law hadn’t been struck down. So, that ended up going to the MO Supreme Court (to the liars in black) who then said, well, wait a minute, the park law is a criminal law because it is specific-offense-based. In other words, the park laws and all the others they are now passing apply to those convicted of specific offenses instead of “Anyone required to register.” They compared it to the ban that prevents felons from owning guns. Nice, huh?
          So, the liars in back robes fell for it and upheld the “Park Ban”. This is what led to the big bru-ha-ha a few months ago about them trying to apply the GPS requirement retroactively. The MO Supreme Court likes to move the goal posts to their liking. And, yet again, the MO ACLU doesn’t seem to give a crap about RCs anymore.
          That’s my best summary of what’s going on in MO. You people in CA should THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS that you have Janice, Chance, and all fighting for you. Because MO has NOBODY!
          The ONLY thing that will help MO would be a federal circuit court ruling that covers our area or SCOTUS. Other than that, we are left out in the cold to die in MO.

        • kind of living

          @ G4 Change , the kitchens , as well as many parks out in the state of MO were an issue for a good many years before there was any such thing as a registry in MO , RC’s are just an easy target because of these laws, but when I lived / worked out that way the law enforcement was down at the kitchens looking for people with fines they could not afford to pay , as well as loitering if they could find nothing on them , ticket them knowing that many were homeless , became a really big problem , now with RC’s it puts a face on the punitive way law enforcement likes to do things , always someone that has no way to fight back , and ensure the prisons / jails stay full and fines being stacked as high as the laws being past , good luck to any RC that lives out that way my heart go’s out to all of them , but the higher courts is a real bad deal because no one cares enough or don’t have enough money to get MO over the barrel and push them hard enough to start backing up , because the only way I know of out that way to get them to begin to revers them selfs is to cost them a lot more money , but it takes a bunch of law suits in the lower courts focused on law enforcement , as well as working on the higher court , not a lot of attorneys want to tackle law enforcement or the courts with out the money to back them , because it is sure to become a full time job fighting the good ole boy crew willing to wine and dine cops as well as attorneys , corruption with little over site

        • Numbers, man, all about numbers

          Reminds me of the performance bullets you need on your performance reports in the military showing how good you did with statistics and numbers, which we know don’t lie unless they are manipulated by others in untrue ways. Good numbers helped promotions.

        • kind of living

          great analogy , good numbers are an easy sell when it comes to $$$ in this case , and who your selling the numbers to , if its “performance rounds” for your DI the numbers need to be true for the best out come , “if its Gov’t small or large” you play with the numbers for the best bang for their buck ,

        • AJ

          I’d keep a close eye on the Pepitone case in neighboring IL ( It’s pending before the IL Supreme Court. The case would seem to apply to what is going on in MO (punishing innocent conduct). The case would of course only be binding in IL, but it could be used as reference for a case in MO. But then again, from everything I glean about MO, it’s no better than FL in its views on things.

  4. ReadyToFight

    I’m so sick of hearing about these stupid ass restrictions and rules aka eggshells to walk on. This is Not American Freedom. If the DOJ and those in the “Justice System” lmao, did their damn Job and kept actual threats to society off the streets and help Rehabilitate all other offenders then maybe we’d have a functioning system instead of the culture of chaos this country is breeding. History repeats itself and this country is going to crap its collective short shorts When not IF, Registered Sex Offenders rise up like an Army of Black Panthers and really make their lives hell until they stop playing the “Administrative” card and stop abusing our families and our constitution.

    P.S Death to the Registry

  5. Power tripping Sheriff

    What else is interesting is some of these missions do essential work for the homeless in helping them secure VA benefits, housing, etc through associate agreements with local agencies. Are they loitering then while they are waiting for their turn? What about when it is gets cold in KC? Sheriff is on a power trip in MO, like the rest of the state. The mission should be putting up a fight on the sweeps.

    “But Sheriff, you only enforce those laws you really want to enforce or someone else wants you to, not all of them. If you did, then there would be a lot more folks in the county jail.”

  6. kind of living

    Note ,, no I am not real bright , and yes I put my self in stupid situations , but in my defence that was years ago and have paid in full light years ago , that don’t make what the Justice system exempt or a free ticket to take advantage of the not so bright or anyone else , sure I made mistakes but never to hurt anyone and never premeditated , the same can’t be said for law enforcement ,

    • Timmr

      Your wording may not be New York Times, but I read your comments for your insight and empathy.

      • kind of living

        thanks timmer , , I am not a new York timey kind of guy really ,lol but I have been trying harder , I read all of your comments and always find them extremely well laid out and very insightful , I am a fan of many on this site , again thank you for even looking at my comments ,

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