Power, parking, and the first amendment

First Amendment rights apparently don’t apply for parking. That’s what the Johnson Creek police chief told me before hanging up. My wife, Lori Compas, and I were attending a protest at Diamond Precision Products in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin, today where Governor Walker was coming with a TV crew from CNN. I called to ask about the extensive “No Parking” signs that lined the streets around the company’s site and was told that they were put in place to protect public safety. When I asked for clarification on how the public’s safety was being improved, the police chief told me the conversation was finished and abruptly hung up.

Here’s a quick map of the area closed to parking (lines in blue) and the Diamond Precision Products facility (red plus sign):

Given that parking legally required nearly a quarter-mile walk along a couple of busy county roads and both elderly and parents with small children were attending the protest, improving public safety was obviously not the prime reason for the parking restrictions.

Even if protecting Governor Walker was a prime concern (removing parking from any potential sight lines?), these restrictions were excessive. Many of the closed streets were well beyond any location where the Diamond facility was visible.

The obvious conclusion: the police restricted access to hinder protesters.

Just felt I had to document the fact.

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About ericcompas

Eric Compas, Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the Geography and Geology Department.
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One Response to Power, parking, and the first amendment

  1. Sandy Compas says:

    Eric, I would say your observation is spot on.

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