On Saturday, September 18, 2010, Craig Toth and I went and handed out FIJA brochures in Holiday Park out side War Memorial Auditorium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In the War Memorial Auditorium there was a gun show, so we started to hand out The Second Amendment FIJA brochure. After about 50 minutes we were approached by officer Henslar badge number 3509 of the Fort Lauderdale police department. He told us that we could not pass out fliers without permission from the organizer. I asked the officer where the organizer was and he directed me inside. Inside I spoke to the organizer who told me that she did not want me outside handing out fliers. I explained the cause, but she did not care.
Outside I spoke with Craig who told me that the park and the building are municipal and that political parties and others have handed out fliers with no problem.
The officer came over and told us to leave, Craig told him that it is a public park. The officer told us that it was against the city ordinance to hand bill. Craig asked him what section, the officer did not know and told us to leave.
We went to the public library and pulled up the municipal code. There is an ordinance, however it does NOT say that it is against the law to pass out educational brochures.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Code of Ordinances >> – CODE OF ORDINANCES >> Chapter 3 – ADVERTISING >> ARTICLE II. – HANDBILLS >> Chapter 3, Article 2, Section 3-30 States:
Sec. 3-30. – Distributing in public place.
It shall be unlawful for any person to deposit, place, throw, scatter or cast any commercial handbill in or upon any public place within this city. It shall also be unlawful for any person to hand out or distribute or sell any commercial handbill in any public place; provided, however, that it shall not be unlawful for any person to hand out or distribute, without charge to the receiver thereof, any handbill in any public place to any person willing to accept such handbill.
(Code 1953, § 3-9)
This ordinance does NOT apply because we were not soliciting for business or donations for charity.
We printed off the ordinance and headed back to the War Memorial Auditorium to talk to the officer.
Inside I thanked the officer for pointing out the ordinance, and tried to explain to him that it does not apply to what we are doing. The officer did not want to hear what I had to say and threatened to arrest me for trespass.
You can see video of that here
As you can see and hear the officer Henslar badge number 3509 abused his position.
We left and went down to the police station, where I spoke with sergeant Greenlaw #1488 who basically told me that if an officer gives you an order to leave you must leave or he can arrest you for trespass. Sergeant Greenlaw told me that he will talk to the officer and get back to me on Monday, September 20.
Today we handed approximately 80 brochures before the officer abused his power.