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2001-07-20
Ukiah, CA. Wal-Mart Sued on Free Speech Issues

On February 21, 2000, 25 people who were picketing a Wal-Mart store in Ukiah, California were placed under "citizen's arrest" by store officials, and taken into custody by the Ukiah police. The Police physically searched, then fingerprinted and booked the residents, who had been protesting Wal-Mart's earlier arrest of a Ukiah resident who had been in front of Wal-Mart collecting signatures for a local ballot initiative. 8 citizens have filed a court complaint against the Ukiah Wal-Mart store and its manager for false arrest, violation of constitutional rights, unfair business practices, and persoal injury. According to the complaint, the plaintiffs say they had a right to peacefully picket on Wal-Mart's property under the California State Constitution, which protects free speech and petitioning activity. and by previous court decisions which hold "that public fora exist on the private property of large retail establishments which have supplanted the traditional town squares and downtown shopping areas which were the traditional sites for free specch activities", and that the Ukiah Wal-Mart was such a forum. The complaint further states that Wal-Mart attempted to shield itself "from legitimate criticism of its policies and practices."

What you can do: Several years ago, I was "escorted" off a Wal-Mart parking lot in Virginia because I had agreed to do an interview in the parking lot with a PBS film crew. Several Wal-Mart "associates" surrounded us on the lot while the interview was taking place, told the filmmaker to shut off his camera, and told us "not to move" until the police arrived. A uniformed police officer from the county came out from the store, told us we were trespassing, and that we would have to leave immediately. The film crew stopped filming, and left the area. We were approximately 400 feet away from the store, towards the rear of the parking lot. For further information about the Ukiah free speech lawsuit, contact info@sprawl-busters.com










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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