Case Dismissed

Regular readers know, I have been running a blog to save Dollhouse for Eliza Dushku, who I love.

I also spent several months homeless in Minneapolis.

In an attempt to save Dollhouse, I often handed out fliers to people I came into contact with. I also took photographs of a variety of events that I participated in.

I was confronted by a staff/volunteer at Branch 2 of Catholic charities who prevented me from distributing my fliers to save a television show. In short, I tried to take the staff/volunteers picture. I was told that I could not take photographs inside the shelter. The next day at Branch 3 of Catholic Charities, I tried to take photographs of people playing Madden 2010 on a Playstation 3 for a second time at Branch 3 and was again told no.

As a result of these denials, I sought a legal order to enjoin them from preventing me from conducting outreach to save Dollhouse and allowing me to continue to take pictures. I am also concerned about the taking of pictures of homeless people while they sleep.

The injunction evolved into a full blown lawsuit, which was eventually dismissed.

Readers may recall I stated:

“I am asserting that Catholic Charities invades privacy by video taping everything at the shelter. I also assert there is a first amendment right to engage in solicitation and free speech as a homeless resident at Hennepin County secure area. The fact that it is a charity and not the state should not make a huge difference. I maintain that fundamental rights cannot be outsourced by transferring the administration of programs to charitable organizations. Allowing charities to eviscerate the first amendment would effectively create a “charitable” curtain, isolating members of the homeless community and impairing their ability to communicate with the outside world. Disallowing photographs/media in this environment would also fundamentally impair legitimate news gathering activities.”

The judge ruled for Catholic Charities on all counts.

You can read the decision here.

Shelter Locker.

This was my shelter lock.

You may also want to listen to Mayor RT Rybak.

I focus on the part where Mayor RT Rybak claims, “What we did with that was we coordinated all these services together and put a phenomenal person named Cathy Ten Broeke in charge of all that laid out a multi-point program that one by one by one we’ve been executing.”

Freedom of the press- analysis?

FYI, Homeless people, like myself, could store our things in lockers during the day if we were paid guests of the pay for stay section.

Here’s a look inside the “private” Branch 3. This photo shows the empty inside, but anyone standing on the sidewalk would be able to see the people inside.

Here is a photograph of people standing on the street, visible to all the passing traffic, while waiting to get into Branch 3. People are often waiting outside. I have used a paint program to hide their faces.

Here is an example of what happened to one of my signs, prior to the initiation of the lawsuit.

Some readers will recall that I asked Minnesota Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) whether homeless people should be videotaped while they sleep in homeless shelters. My efforts were featured in a City Pages article. You can watch the video to see her response which is carefully crafted but open minded.

I also attended the Minnesota House committee meeting at Health Care and Human Services Finance Division. I took the opportunity to testify. I focused on the deprivations of fundamental rights and censorship threats to democracy.

You can watch my testimony here.

More background on the legal case can be found here.

You can also watch my hastily thrown together proposal for Eliza Dushku.

6 Responses to “Case Dismissed”

  1. In reading the opinion I did note that in the Undisputed Facts section the Court stated you “resided for a time at Branch II”. Although this does seem inconsistent with the Court’s notion that you were “merely” a guest at the shelter, I don’t see any appealable issues. This, in spite of the Court’s factual error that you didn’t store anything at the shelters. It is difficult to create a landlord tenant relationship without a written agreement, unless it is a simple month to month whereby the tenant can come and go as he pleases, is given a key, and is free to move in his things and place them freely about the dwelling.

    I also agree with the Court’s notions that the restrictions at the shelter, however inconsistent they may seem, are reasonable as to time, place, and manner. Yes, the guests are visible through the windows, or when they are waiting on the street, but guests can wear a hat and sunglasses while outside, and keep their faces opposite the windows while inside… They really have no means of hiding their faces when photographed and placed on the web.

    Anyway, I’m curious to know if you think any of the issues are appealeable; and if so, what would your brief look like? Would you consider posting a sample appellate brief, even if you don’t want to file it?

  2. If homeless shelters get govt grant money, they must abide by the constitutions, just like any other govt employee.

    In Knoxville TN, “nonprofit” Volunteer Ministries homeless shelters are the most profitable corporation, due to govt grants paying them to buy up more commercial real estate than any other company downtown.
    http://vmcinc.org

  3. Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but even government entities can restrict free speech if the restrictions are reasonable as to time, place and manner. The first amendment does not protect all speech. For example, speech such as harassment, fighting words, obscenity, defamation, etc, can all be prohibited without running afoul of the first amendment.

  4. [...] You can also review my own experiences involving blogging and censorship. [...]

  5. You need to appeal ASAP. Your right to be videotaped and safe while at Branch 3 must be vindicated. Further, you need to move the Court of Appeals for a temporary restraining order so that you can resume outreach efforts at Branch 3. The clock is ticking, and I am frankly disappointed with your efforts so far. Dollhouse is not going to save itself.

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