Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First Amendment Rights Violated By Milwaukee Police And LPOA, When Latinos Were Kicked Out From Mexican Fiesta

Alexander C. Ayala

The Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation Board expected to meet and discuss the expulsions of multiple people during August 23-25 from its annual Mexican Fiesta grounds after people had paid admission and no refunds were ever returned.

By H. Nelson Goodson
September 3, 2013

Milwaukee, WI - The Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, Inc., the Milwaukee Police Department, Latino Peace Officers Association (LPOA), Milwaukee Officers Alexander C. Ayala and Borst engaged in First Amendment rights violations when they kicked out people from the annual Mexican Fiesta 2013. The Police Department used its Intelligence Center information to deliberately profile (identify), discriminate and violate the First Amendment rights of certain people on the basis of what color of clothes they were wearing and tattoos once they had paid their admission into the festival grounds and then afterwards were kicked out. Police and the LPOA headed by Officer Ayala determined, identified and targeted people for the color of clothing they were wearing, including facial tattoos not in good taste for their family environment at the festival. The people targeted were stopped and then escorted out of the grounds without getting a refund. Those who refused to leave were threaten with arrest for disorderly conduct and trespassing. The profiling or identifying operation conducted by police has been used at the annual event for the last three years. The Latino victims who were profiled by the officers did no wrong doing at the festival other than dressed a certain way or looked different from the rest of the attendees. 
Officer Ayala explained, that they want to prevent any violence at the event, so they are kicking out anyone identified as a former, current or future gang member from attending the event. How is Officer Ayala determining who was, is a current or a future gang member in order to kick them out of the three day event? Ayala says, the Milwaukee Police Department Intelligence Center provides that information and once someone is identified as a gang member, that person is expelled and ban from the event. If the information used by Ayala is inaccurate, those kicked out from the event are just out of luck from ever being allowed back into the event. 
What police and Officer Ayala engaged over the weekend during Mexican Fiesta 2013 was a gross violation of people's First Amendment rights. The Fiesta incident went viral on Facebook (FB), which some FB users are pushing for a boycott of Mexican Fiesta in 2014 or until Fiesta organizers publicly apologize and its discriminatory policy is removed.
Last week, Mexican Fiesta told Telemundo 63 that they will discuss the issue at their next WHSF Board meeting. Police issued a statement to Telemundo 63, that they work with Fiesta and that organizers had a right to determine who can be allowed into their festival.
Citing several First Amendment prior cases, in 1990, LULAC 9900 who managed Mexican Fiesta was sued for banning the distribution of Satélite, a bilingual variety newspaper that featured on its front page a photo of Miss Mexican Fiesta 1990 in a one piece polka-dot swim suit, calling it in "bad taste."
The staff of Satélite were "forcibly removed" kicked out by police for distributing the newspaper inside the grounds. Satélite later filed a lawsuit. They claimed that their First Amendment rights were violated when Mexican Fiesta organizers barred them from distributing the paper at the festival in 1990. They also claimed that Maier Festival Park, which hosts other ethnic festivals during the summer, is public in nature and an appropriate place for the exercise of First Amendment rights.
In June 1992, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge William D. Gardner ruled that the Summerfest grounds are a "public forum" where there is a First Amendment right to freedom of expression,  even when the grounds are occupied by an ethnic festival.
Gardner said, "City government created the grounds to be a place where the public could gather and experience the ethnic and cultural diversity of the community." The Mexican Fiesta attorney had argued that the organization was private and by leasing the grounds, it had discretion to decide what would be allowed on the grounds. Judge Gardner disagreed.
Mexican Fiesta paid Satélite $15,000 in an out-of-court settlement, after Judge Gardner's ruling. It was an important ruling because it was finally determined that the Summerfest grounds are a "public forum" where there is a First Amendment right to freedom of expression. 
In August 2003, three Milwaukee Outlaws filed a federal lawsuit against Summerfest claiming that they were arrested, cited for trespassing and kicked out of the grounds on July 2, 2003 by police for wearing their Outlaws motorcycle club colors. They claimed a First Amendment violation because they had paid their way in to the festival and once inside police cited them and then were kicked out for wearing their colors. The Summerfest grounds is city owned land and leased to the Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.
An attorney for the Outlaws and an attorney for Summerfest later agreed to allow the Outlaws dress how they like when attending events at Summerfest. Thus, eliminating the discrimination against wearing colors. 

Milwaukee Police profiling at Mexican Fiesta 2013? (Telemundo 63 news video at) http://bit.ly/17mNzCt

Sources: Satélite Bilingual Newspaper (1990), The Spanish Journal (1992), The Milwaukee Journal (1992), The Milwaukee Sentinel (1991), The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (2003), Hupy dot com, Milwaukee County court records, U.S. District of Wisconsin District Court and H. Nelson Goodson. 

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