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December 13, 2010
Buffalo Grove Police refuse to arrest
after "Protester" complaint at BG Post Office
The Buffalo Grove Police Department got it right, as usual, earlier this month, when they refused to arrest me for attempting to collect signatures on my Nominating Petitions for Buffalo Grove Village Clerk while peacefully standing on the public sidewalk in front of the Buffalo Grove Post Office.
A manager at the Post Office called the Police to complain that a "protester" was on the public sidewalk in front of the post office, and the manager wanted the protester to be arrested and removed from their public sidewalk.
I was that "protester." As people would approach me on the way to the front door of the post office, I would say to them, "Hi. I'm Rob Sherman and I'm collecting signatures on my Nominating Petitions for Buffalo Grove Village Clerk. Would you please help me out with a signature so that I can get on the ballot? Are you are a registered voter in Buffalo Grove?"
So, does that make me a protester? Yes, absolutely! I was protesting the way that the incumbent Village Clerk is doing or, more accurately, not doing, her job, by peacefully, politely and courteously seeking to get on the ballot to run against her in the next election. Now, that's a crime for which somebody should be put in jail, right?
Many people would respond to my request by saying, "Sure." I'd then say, "Please sign your name in the first box and print your name in the second box." Then, as they were printing their name in the second box, I'd say, "Please print your street address in the third box." As they did that, I'd say, "It already says Buffalo Grove in the last box, but I need your County -- Cook or Lake -- in the fourth box." Part of Buffalo Grove is in Cook County and part is in Lake County.
The entire process would take about 30 seconds.
If somebody declined or refused to answer, I'd say, "Thanks. Have a nice day, anyway." That's it! No obstruction, delay or interference. The sidewalk is wide enough so that there was plenty of room for them to do what they came to do without me being in the way at all, and I stood at the inside edge of the sidewalk to make sure that no reasonable person would feel blocked or inconvenienced by my presence.
Two very nice Buffalo Grove Police Officers came by the Post Office in response to the 911 call against me, but they refused to arrest me. The spoke to me to ask what I was doing, and when I explained what I was doing, they went inside to talk to the Post Office manager.
The manager gave the cops a copy of a Postal Service document that said that collecting signatures on petitions was prohibited anywhere on Postal Service property, and that the public sidewalk was their property. The cops then showed me that document and asked for my response.
I told them that the First Amendment "freedom of speech" clause protects the right of citizens to speak to other citizens on a government owned public sidewalk, and that what I was doing was engaging in constitutionally protected political speech. As for that Postal Service document, I said that it had obviously been written by lawyers for the Postal Service, for the convenience of their client and not for the convenience of citizens who might wish to exercise their constitutional rights on their public sidewalk.
I told the cops that the document was reminiscent of that old phrase, "We (the government) don't want you to have any confusion about what rights you may have, so you don't have any rights. End of confusion!"
The cops responded that they agreed with me! They said that I wasn't violating any local ordinance or state statute, so I could stay. They said that if the Post Office manager doesn't like it, she can call the Postal Inspector (the United States Postal Service Police Department) and have them arrest me, but they weren't going to arrest me for trying to get on the ballot.
The Postal Inspector never came, but one mailman told me, later, that the incident involving me was the talk of the employees at the Buffalo Grove Post Office and that they all agreed with me. Maybe, they just liked the fact that somebody, finally, had the courage to stand up to Postal Service management and succeed in telling them, "No!"
Furthermore, what is the government thinking if this form of "protest" -- the circulating, on a public sidewalk, of nominating petitions to get on the ballot -- is regarded by the federal government as a crime that should land somebody in jail? We, as a society, ought to be encouraging people to do this, not sending people to jail for doing this.
Religious people, around the world, have a different way of protesting government. They do assassinations of elected officials, suicide bombings against completely innocent women and children, and use IED's (improvised explosive devices) to kill people as a way of intimidating their current government. Do we really want to send those people the message that, here in America, we arrest people and send them to jail for trying to overthrow the government by getting on the ballot for the next election?
I'm an atheist, so I don't do jihad, the way religious people do. I use ballot access as my way to overthrow government officials that I don't like. Fortunately for me, I live in a community where the Police support generally accepted traditional American values, such as elections, as being the right way to overthrow government that we don't like.
Nobody was shot at the post office. Nobody died. Nobody was arrested and, today, I will file my Nominating Petitions to get on the ballot.
If I win, blame the Buffalo Grove Police Department and not the Post Office. The Post Office tried to stop me from getting on the ballot, but they failed. Thanks, BGPD, for getting it right, as usual.
Previous Rob Sherman News stories about this subject matter:
Sunday, November 7: Yet another scandal by Buffalo Grove Village Clerk
Thursday, Nov. 4: Public Access Counselor finds BG Clerk failed to provide sufficient detail in meeting Minutes
Monday, November 1: Complaint filed with Attorney General against Buffalo Grove Village Clerk
Monday, October 18: Illinois Public Access Counselor condemns Minutes of gov't meetings that lack specificity
Thursday, October 14: Village Clerk says losing keys to Village Hall is no big deal
Tuesday, October 12: Sherman declares candidacy for Buffalo Grove Village Clerk
Monday, October 11: Sherman renews call for Buffalo Grove Village Clerk to resign
Wednesday, October 6: Term Limits of 32 years proposed for Buffalo Grove elected officials
Tues, 10/5: New scandal regarding Buffalo Grove "Minutes": Was it Finance Committee or Comm of the Whole?
Monday, October 4: Buffalo Grove Village Clerk doesn't get it in dispute over meeting Minutes
Sunday, October 3: Buffalo Grove Trustee backs Sherman in dispute over meeting Minutes
Saturday, October 2: Illinois Open Meetings Act backs Sherman in dispute over Buffalo Grove meeting Minutes
Friday, October 1: Sherman to challenge Minutes of Buffalo Grove Committee of the Whole meeting
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