Thursday, March 01, 2007

Equality Florida Activist Arrested At Largo City Commission Meeting

Equality Florida executive director Nadine Smith was arrested while trying to hand out fliers at Wednesday's Largo city commission meeting during which officials voted to dismiss transgender city manager Steve Stanton. The fliers were printed with the words Don't Discriminate.

Police contend Nadine Smith, executive director of the gay and lesbian advocacy group Equality Florida, became disruptive when they told her stop distributing the fliers in violation of a city ordinance.

Smith supporters contend the St. Petersburg resident is a nationally recognized social justice leader with two years of nonviolent advocacy.

"We believe Nadine is completely innocent," said Amy Mandel, chairwoman of the Equality Florida board of directors, who spoke on Smith's behalf Wednesday.

Smith, 41, was released from Pinellas County Jail early Wednesday after posting $5,250 bail on a felony charge of resisting arrest with violence and a misdemeanor of disturbing others' assembly.

Calling all city toadies: here's where you pull out the four-foot-thick ring-binder of obscure city ordinances--now with paper bans and floor maintenance tips!--and show how easy it is to pound the First Amendment into submission. Ah, right on cue:

The city assigned extra police and firefighters to the meeting. Officers had been instructed to stop the dissemination of fliers for three reasons, said Largo police spokesman Mac McMullen.

Fliers present a fire hazard; plus, when they end up on the floor, people can slip on them, McMullen said.

Given the already emotionally charged meeting, city officials also thought that fliers could become further disruptive, McMullen said.

Smith also lacked permission to pass out the fliers, as required by city law, he said.

And for good measure, throw in a charge of resisting arrest and some baseless accusations that Ms. Smith had become violent.

Fliers could become further disruptive. The condescension (along with the appalling grammar) just drips. Yeah, I suppose--if someone folded his into a sharp little pink mini-Concorde and put someone's eye out. Or created a hailstorm of spitballs one would be hard pressed to say were undeserved by at least some of those present. Do you know what I consider disruptive? Disruptive to the rule of law, I mean? When arrogant, egocentric, homobigoted tax evaders religious "leaders" bully government by claiming an exclusive hold on morality and a voice that represents the so-called majority, and then twist public policy and legislation to fit their narrow, nasty little worldviews.

(H/T Michael Hussey at Pushing Rope)

Pam is also on the story.

Also at Shakes' place.

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