St. Paul, Minn. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota today announced the filing of a lawsuit against the Federal Protective Services, unknown and unnamed agents of the Federal Protective Services, the State of Minnesota and the City of Minneapolis on behalf of anti-war activist Melissa Hill for violating her First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment Rights. After writing on a public sidewalk with erasable sidewalk chalk, Hill was detained by agents and had a tresspass order issued against her by the Federal Protective Services and law enforcement officials.
On the morning of June 9, 2011, Hill was walking in Minneapolis when she observed that a message that had been previously written in chalk on the public sidewalk in front of the Federal Building Building located at 212 S. Third Ave., reading "Don't Enlist Resist," had been erased so that it now read simply "Enlist". Hill was in the process of re-chalking "Don't Enlist, Resist" when she was handcuffed, detained, searched and questioned by security guards, FPS Agents and a Minneapolis Police Department officer. The MPD issued Hill a trespass notice that prohibits her from entering the property of the Federal Building for a period of one year. If Hill decides to exercise her First Amendment rights in public in the vicinity of the Federal Building she would be arrested and face a fine and/or imprisonment.
The complaint states that the Defendants acted unlawfully by detaining Hill without probable cause and by issuing a trespass notice against her without legal justification. In the complaint Hill asks for damages and a declaration that the trespass ordinances under which the trespass notice was issued are unconstitutional on their face and as applied.
"This is a classic example of overreach of law enforcement, Ms. Hill was simply exercising her freedom of speech when she was subject to harassment and punishment by the law enforcement agencies involved in this matter," stated ACLU Executive Director Charles Samuelson. "We hope for a speedy resolution to this matter and that Ms. Hill's rights are fully restored."
Cooperating attorneys in the case include William Pentelovitch, Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand LLP