Pubdate: Thu, 11 May 2006
Source: The Campus Press (CO Edu)
Copyright: 2006 The Campus Press
Contact:  1511 University Avenue, Boulder, CO 80309
Author: Josh Boissevain, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Civil rights attorneys Perry R. Sanders, Jr. and Robert  J. Frank 
announced plans on May 10 to file a federal  lawsuit against CU on 
behalf of several students who  say their rights were violated by the 
CUPD at the 4/20  pro-marijuana gathering on Farrand Field.

"We were not advocating a federal civil lawsuit, we  were advocating 
peace," Sander said in a press release.  "The university has forced 
our hand in this matter."

The attorneys are representing three CU students: Megan  Malone, a 
sophomore integrative physiology major,  Makenna Salaverry, a 
sophomore sociology major, and  Somerset Tullius, a sophomore art 
history major, who  were among 2,500 people who gathered on the field 
for  the un-official annual celebration at 4:20 p.m. April  20.

The university closed the field from noon to 5 p.m.  that day and 
posted signs notifying students of the  closure. The signs also read 
that Farrand Field was  under surveillance.

On April 27, the CUPD posted pictures on their Web site  of the three 
women at the rally along with 197 other  individuals who police say 
were trespassing. Some of  the photos also depicted individuals 
smoking from a  pipe or rolled-up paper.

CU was offering a $50 reward to anyone who could  positively identify 
any of the people in the photos. By  the time site was taken down on 
May 10, over 70 of the  photographs were labeled as "identified."

In the announcement, Sanders said the Web site is one  example of how 
the university has gone too far. "These  are people that the worst 
thing they did was trespass,  and there is a $50 reward by their 
picture," he said.  "This isn't okay. This is killing ants with a 
sledge  hammer."

The university has "come after people like these three  ladies right 
here who were not doing anything illegal  that day," he said. "They 
didn't see any no-trespassing  signs that I'm aware of. They 
certainly weren't using  any illegal drugs out there that day, they 
were like many hundreds, if not thousands, of people who were 
out  there expressing themselves freely on a free university  campus."

"The photographs of the women, which are now posted on  the Internet 
for the entire world to see, are a  violation of these students 
rights," Sanders said.  "They've gotten calls from (people) as far 
away as  Europe that they've seen (the) picture on the Web  regarding 
being associated with using illegal drugs,"  he said. "These people 
were not using illegal drugs at  all. They were merely part of a 
peaceful protest."

The police were well within their right to try to  identify students 
who were on the field, said CUPD  spokesman Lt. Tim McGraw. "There's 
a university  regulation that says people on the campus of the 
University of the Colorado at Boulder shall not violate  state, 
federal or local laws while here. To do so is a  university 
violation," he said. "The people that  trespassed onto the field that 
we identified that are  students have been referred to the Office of 
Judicial  Affairs for violation of that university regulation."

The university did a number of things to inform  students that the 
field was closed, McGraw said,  including handing out fliers hours in 
advance of the  event, posting security personal and event staff, 
barricading the field and posting signs regarding the  closure. "I 
don't know how more reasonable the  university could act," he said.

Sanders and Frank, who are also currently representing  the estate of 
deceased rapper Notorious B.I.G. in a  wrongful death suit against 
the Los Angeles Police  Department, initially came to CU May 4 to 
speak to students who participated in the 4/20 rally about 
their  rights and legal options.

The attorneys contacted university representatives to  ask that the 
CUPD's investigation be stopped and the  conflict resolved peaceably. 
"We offered the university  an olive branch," Sanders said in a 
prepared statement.  "We, on behalf of clearly innocent students, 
asked them  to take down the Web site and purge information related 
to it. We advised that the university would continue to  harm these 
individuals if they acted on any of this  information. The university 
not only rejected the olive  branch, but picked up their bully club 
during finals  and began telling students to come into the police 
station for questioning."

Although the lawsuits are not prepared yet, the  attorneys plan to 
file petitions with the federal  district court in the next few days. 
They could not  give any specific details about the lawsuit or the 
complaints against the university because of legal and  ethical 
issues, Frank said.

One of the other general concerns the attorneys  expressed was 
whether the university had the right to  close Farrand field in the 
first place. "We're talking  about First Amendment violations of 
assembly, association and freedom of speech at a minimum,"  Sanders said.

For a government entity to close a public place like  Farrand, Frank 
said, they have to prove that the  decision was content neutral, 
meaning that it wasn't  because of the content of the speech. But he 
doesn't  believe the university did this. "They were closing  this 
field because a group of people, students and  non-students, were 
going to gather together to discuss,  identify and to demonstrate a 
really big political  issue, and the government can't do that," he said.

"Even assuming what they did was content neutral, they  need to do it 
in the least burdensome manner to  speech," Frank said. "What that 
means is if they think  that there were people engaging in illegal 
conduct,  then they need to come and they need to take the 
appropriate measures relating to the people engaged in  illegal 
conduct." One appropriate measure, he said  would have been for the 
police to hand out individual  citations to drug users as they found them.

The university did not violate any civil rights, said  CU spokesman 
Barrie Hartman. "What rights were we  violating?" he asked. "I mean 
the field was closed, and  we have a right to close the field."

Hartman also added that the university considered the  option of 
handing out citations but ultimately decided  to close down the field 
to everybody because "it was  safe, and it was a way to tell the 
students that this  was not an appropriate event," Hartman said.

University administrators decided it would be best for  safety 
reasons not to hand out individual citations to  drug users, Hartman 
said. "We didn't want to do  something that would cause a 
confrontation between police and students because that's how people get  hurt."

McGraw added that citations would not have been a  pragmatic option 
with the limited amount of resources  available to CUPD. "The last 
thing we want to do is  create a bigger problem than the one we were 
trying to  solve," he said. "If we go out and start citing some 
people, and people become resistive, if people are high  and not in 
as rational state of mind as they typically  might be, we could touch 
off a powder keg, and we don't  want to go down that road."

The people who were photographed were not allowed to be  where they 
were in the first place, McGraw said.  "Nobody in the state of 
Colorado has the right to break  the law," he said. People "don't 
have the right to  trespass onto a closed field."
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