Thursday, July 10, 2008

FREEDOM CLIPS

Jacob Sullum, Reason Last May property rights activists in Clarksville, Tennessee, ran an ad in a local paper urging their neighbors to oppose a redevelopment project that involves the use of eminent domain. The ad, sponsored by the Clarksville Property Rights Coalition, noted that Mayor Johnny Piper, City Councilman Richard Swift, and Downtown District Partnership member Wayne Wilkinson "are all developers" and declared: "This redevelopment plan is about private development. Our city government is controlled by developers. . . This redevelopment plan is of the developers, by the developers, and for the developers." Not only did the plan win the city council's approval, but now Swift and Wilkinson are suing the coalition for defamation, seeking $500,000 in damages.

LA Times Los Angeles police officials announced that 17 officers and two sergeants from the department's elite Metropolitan Division should be punished for their roles in last year's May Day melee in MacArthur Park, which left scores of people injured. The pending discipline revolves "mostly around force issues," LAPD Cmdr. Rick Webb told the civilian Police Commission at its weekly meeting. The department's misconduct findings come after more than a year of investigative work, which included the review of hundreds of hours of videotapes showing officers swinging batons and firing foam rubber bullets at journalists and immigrant rights protesters, officials said. The recommended punishment for the officers was considered confidential and not disclosed by LAPD officials. Under department rules, the penalties can range from a relatively minor official reprimand to termination, authorities said. . . Police Chief William J. Bratton has already conceded that bad decisions by some of his top commanders contributed to the chaos on May 1, 2007. The deputy chief who served as the incident commander promptly retired after Bratton said he was going to demote him. . . Attorney Carol Sobel, who represents 186 protesters and journalists who have filed lawsuits against the police, said she suspects that the officers facing discipline are limited to those whose actions were captured on video that she and others turned over to the police. "The message here seems to be if you do something wrong, make sure it is not captured on the video," she said.

Mark Fitzgerald, Editor & Publisher City Beat, the alternative weekly in Cincinnati, is suing the city's police chief, a county sheriff, three county prosecutors, and others, claiming they are violating the paper's First Amendment rights by pressuring it to stop running "adult services" ads. . . City Beat filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. It named more than 30 defendants, including clergymen and others affiliated with Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values, a group that opposes pornography and sex-related businesses. In June, the group held a press conference and issued an open letter demanding that City Beat drop its classified ads for massage parlors, escorts, and other allegedly sex-related businesses. "There is no question that the adult classifieds of their print and online editions consist primarily of solicitations for prostitution and promotion of businesses that front for prostitution," CCV President Phil Burress said at the time. The press conference followed raids on "spas" in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky that allegedly were running prostitution operations. Law enforcement officials at the time said many of the raided spas were advertisers in City Beat.


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