The “Ambassadors” in the Downtown Berkeley Association's Block By Block program claimed on Sunday, August 19, 2012, that only fliers authored by the City of Berkeley were allowed on Constitution Square's light poles.
Carol Denney, a local Berkeley activist and the editor of the Pepper Spray Times, was putting up signs which stated “Restricted Area: Wealthy People Only- Have Your Badges Ready”, a satirical, official-looking notice protesting the crackdown on homeless and poor people.
“We're just doing our job,” stated Ambassador program workers Jamie Bush and Craig Daniels as they repeated tried to pull down the fliers placed by Denney, who patiently replaced them as they came down, citing their legality under Berkeley Municipal Code.
Daniels got so heated when Denney replaced the posters he had just destroyed that he pried her fingers off the light pole in his next attempt to “clean” the pole.
Denney stated to him that he had hurt her hand, but continued to replace the fliers, citing the First Amendment, while a witness stood by taking photographs. Daniels shielded his face, turned his badge over so that his name would not be visible, and finally removed his badge altogether.
Daniels also threatened to bring back a “rulebook” and “appeal to a higher power” regarding the poster issue, which Denney politely encouraged him to do.
“There is no law in the land that allows them to remove certain posters based on content while letting other posters remain,” she stated. “A content-based flier policy is illegal.”
The Ambassador workers called the BART police, and an officer responded and accosted Denney (Badge #261). He implied that putting up posters was illegal, but acknowledged that he was not sure of the law and did not arrest her.
Denney and her witness walked away for several minutes to meet up with a videographer then returned to the Constitution Square area where the Ambassador program workers were busily removed her fliers while leaving up “No Smoking” signs on the same light poles. Denney had put up all of the signs, including the ones being allowed to remain.
“I'm doing this to highlight the content-based flier removal policy currently being utilized by the Ambassador program workers,” stated Denney. “If the government can put up posters, then so can we.”
Carol Denney is a community activist, musician, and is having a torrid affair with the first amendment.