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NLGSF Demands City of Berkeley Retract Unconstitutional Rules Targeting Counter Protesters
by NLG-SF
Sunday Aug 27th, 2017 12:39 AM
NLGSF DEMANDS CITY OF BERKELEY RETRACT UNCONSTITUTIONAL RULES TARGETING COUNTER PROTESTERS, CONDEMNS CITY OF BERKELEY FOR TELLING ANTI-RACISTS NOT TO PROTEST
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NLGSF demands that the City of Berkeley immediately retract the unconstitutional rules prohibiting head and face coverings at tomorrow’s demonstrations and instruct the police department, and any law enforcement agencies providing mutual aid, that they cannot issue citations, make arrests, or otherwise sanction an individual for a putative violation of those rules. The prohibition is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment. The NLG is prepared to take any legal action necessary to protect the people's right to protest the white supremacist rally in Berkeley and will provide legal support for all anti-racist protesters arrested by law enforcement at the August 27 protest.

On August 25, 2017, Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley promulgated the unconstitutional regulation without public notice or comment. Among other things, the purported regulation states: “wearing of a mask, scarf, bandana or any other accessory or item that covers or partially covers the face and shields the wearer’s face from view, or partially from view, is prohibited, except for coverings worn due to religious beliefs, practices or observances.”[1] Also on August 25, 2017, the Berkeley Police Department issued “Nixie Alert 6126423” regarding implementation of these rules and stating, “anyone violating these rules will be subject to citation and arrest”.

According to Rachel Lederman, an attorney member of NLGSF, "Anti-racist protesters have been targeted by the fascists and subjected to violence, threats and doxing. The courts recognize that dissidents may need to protect their identity and that denying them the right to demonstrate anonymously, can effectively deprive them of their right to speak in opposition to violent racist hate groups. "

“The City of Berkeley has repeatedly insisted that the fascists, Nazis and white supremacists have a First Amendment right to come to Berkeley and spew hatred and words of violence against immigrants, Blacks, Muslims, Jews, women, LGBTQ people and other minorities. But it consistently curtails the First Amendment rights of anti-racist counter protesters. This regulation is a surreptitious way of doing just that, of targeting anti-racists”, says Nina Farnia, President of NLGSF.

NLGSF is the leading progressive bar association in the Bay Area. With over 700 members, it provides legal representation for anti-racist, anti-sexist protesters arrested in the Bay Area, and has litigated successful civil rights lawsuits against the Berkeley and Oakland Police Departments.

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[1] Berkeley Administrative Rules, AR-CCPark-Aug2717 “Restrictions And Prohibitions In Civic Center Park And In Civic Center Area City Buildings For August 27, 2017” and AR-DowntownBerk-Aug2017 “Restrictions And Prohibitions In Defined Area Of Downtown Berkeley For August 27, 2017”.