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Councilmen Johnson And Reed Take On Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson In USA Today Newspaper Over His Veto Of Flash Mob Legislation
Submitted by JournalistKathy... on Sat, 09/17/2011 - 22:14.
Brought to you by The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com, www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com. (Editor's Note: Cleveland City Councilmen Jeffrey Johnson and Zack Reed are featured below opposing flash mobs in an editorial that ran today, Saturday, September 17, 2011, in The USA Today Newspaper, a national news venue. The opinion below is that of Johnson and Reed and not The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog. Com. And while we respect both as viable Black leaders, The Imperial Women, Stop Targeting Ohio's Poor, The Oppressed People's Nation, Black on Black Crime and other grassroots organizations object to any local, state or federal legislation designed to silence free speech, such as protests on issues of public concern, and we collectively support the position by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, who vetoed irresponsible legislation pushed by Johnson and Reed and adopted in July by Cleveland City Council on the flash mob issue as overreaching and unconstitutional. We again call on Cleveland Hts. City Council, a suburban city council in a city that borders the predominantly Black major metropolitan City of Cleveland, to nullify its recent unconstitutional and overreaching city ordinance that was adopted around the flash mob issue and requires that Black and other children and teens under 18 are arrested and jailed if caught eating at or otherwise patronizing select restaurants in the city between 6pm and 6am without a parent or guardian. And not all flash mobs have a criminal element. In fact, most don't.The editorial below really shows the lack of understanding by Councilmen Reed and Johnson of the 1st Amendment's guarantee as to free speech and the right to assemble without the threat of criminal charges. Reed held a festival that drew a flash mob and violence and now he wants community activists harassed. Our protests on issues of public concern are non-violent. Should Reed be prosecuted for organizing an event that resulted in violence?).
Opposing view: Stop criminal flash mobs, Posted in USA Today, September 17, 2011
By Jeff Johnson and Zack Reed
Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his 1941 State of the Union address, laid out four principles of freedom, including the freedom of speech found in our Bill of Rights — a freedom guaranteed to all Americans past, present and future. We agree with Roosevelt, but in no way should free speech be used to harm others regardless of what vehicle is used to express it.
In Cleveland, we're working to stop criminal flash mobs by focusing on the people who organize these disruptive "new tech" mobs, and those who participate in a mob's criminal activities. Some question our approach as a threat to free speech. We disagree.
As proven many times, the right to free speech is not absolute. When the purpose of an individual's speech creates an immediate threat of harm, or advocates criminal actions, it is subject to legal limitations. In July we sponsored, and the Cleveland City Council passed, an ordinance making it illegal to use social media to violate city laws, for example, by inducing a riot, disorderly conduct or unlawful congregation. Violators could be charged with this misdemeanor in conjunction with charges for existing crimes. A mob that disrupted a nearby community's festival earlier this summer, plus several upcoming festivals in Cleveland, each made us realize we had to do something quickly. The American Civil Liberties Union opposed our ordinance, and even though it passed unanimously, the mayor vetoed it. His veto was upheld. Still, we will continue our efforts, and hope to work with the mayor and others to fight this problem.
We believe any approach must take into account that using social media to gather a mob is tantamount to inciting a riot. This approach does not find fault with the use of social media to express an opinion, but rather considers the organizer's words as proof of criminal intent.Our approach will protect citizens' free speech while protecting them from becoming victims of crime. There is no difference today in organizing a criminal flash mob via a smartphone vs., as in the past, an individual who stood in front of a mob, bullhorn in hand, urging criminal action. Technology has made it easier to commit certain crimes, but we cannot allow it to provide protection for criminals in ways our Bill of Rights never intended.
Zack Reed and Jeff Johnson are members of the Cleveland City Council. www.usatoday.com